Hungry Girl Goes... Off to Survive Thanksgiving!

Let's jump right into it — here are my Top "Ate" tips for surviving Thanksgiving!
Hungry Girl

1. Eat beforehand

As tempted as you may be to do the I'm-gonna-save-all-my-calories-for-the-big-meal thing, don't! It's a bad idea. Why? 1) You'll be cranky. 2) By the time the meal comes around, you'll dive in, making unwise choices and likely overdoing it on high-calorie, high-fat items. 3) You'll feel sick afterwards. So what should you do? Have a smart breakfast (some oatmeal and fruit, maybe) and a light lunch during the day. Then you'll be less likely to attack the big meal like a hungry wildebeest.

2. Move it!

Activity is key. If you exercise regularly, don't break your regimen on Thanksgiving, of all days. If you don't work out, try to get in a little something, like a walk around the neighborhood, playing with the kids, etc. Heads up! Cooking and spending lots of time puttering around the kitchen not only earns you props at the dinner table, but it'll also burn about 140 calories an hour! (Average based on a 160-lb. person.)

3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Drink a good amount of water all day long. Not only is it all-around good for you, it'll keep you from grabbing snacks when you really just need some H2O. And go easy on non-water drinks, especially ones full of sugar and/or alcohol. You don't want to tack on a ton of extra calories with a big meal ahead of you!

4. Pitch in!

I already mentioned how preparing the meal can burn a few extra calories, but the added bonus of making something for the feast? Not only will your friends and family ooh and ahh over your creation, but it also gives you a chance to get something a bit lower in calories on the table. If you know what's in it, you know how much of it you can have and for how many calories.

5. Choose wisely

It's really easy, once people start passing dishes around, to just take a scoop of everything. Don't! Take a moment when you first sit down. Assess the spread — there will be things you really want, things you kinda want, things you'd like to taste, and things you know are safe to eat. Grab from the last group first while you still have lots of room on your plate (lean turkey breast, non-sauced veggies, etc.). Then take a moderate amount of your super-faves, followed by a taste or two of unfamiliar items.

6. Treat yourself!

Don't spend all your time obsessing about calories — while it's smart to be aware of what you eat, you're not gonna have any fun if you don't cut loose a little and enjoy yourself. If the thought of sitting through a meal without having at least a small serving of stuffing or a little slice of pie is unbearable, eat it! Remember: It's a celebration... so celebrate!

7. Leftover-mania!

There are always leftovers. If you're hosting the get-together, stock up on disposable plastic containers that you don't care about getting back; try to hand out most of the food you don't trust yourself around and don't want to be stuck eating for a week. If you're visiting, see if you can snag some of that turkey, but don't let yourself get loaded up with heavy stuff and desserts!

8. "Fat" pants: A no-no

I'm only half-joking here, but don't put on the clothes you wear at your heaviest. Choose something to wear that's comfortable and classy — don't go specifically looking through your closet for something with an elastic waistband. And never unbutton your pants at the table. (Once again, only half-joking.)

Where will Hungry Girl go next week? Check back Monday to find out!

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Hungry Girl, aka Lisa Lillien, distributes her tips, tricks and takes on new food products through her daily emails and Web site. Check out

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