It's easy to treat Thanksgiving as the kickoff to a six-week food fest. Who can resist grandma's buttery mashed potatoes and sweet pecan pie? And if you're anything like me, too much splurging on Thanksgiving sets off a domino effect for the rest of the holiday season. It's hard to feel festive on New Year's Eve when you can barely button your pants!

Since slimming down to my Feel Great Weight a few years ago, I'm not willing to go back to my heavier days. So I've learned how to tackle some of the most tempting Thanksgiving Day danger zones—and how to still score big on the taste factor.

Foul: I overdo it on appetizers before sitting down to a big Thanksgiving dinner.

Fair play: I don't want to feel left out while the rest of my family enjoys yummy appetizers, so I grab a small plate and take my time to make a decision. I scan the appetizer options and then select three to add to my plate: a once-a-year treat (cranberry baked Brie), a personal favorite (bacon-wrapped dates), and a nutritious option, like crudités with hummus or shrimp cocktail. Using a plate provides me with a visual aid of how much I am eating, and choosing a trio of appetizers prevents me from feeling deprived, so I'm able to pace myself before the meal starts.

Foul: I load my plate with a big scoop of everything on my grandmother's dining room table. It all smells so delicious (and hey, Thanksgiving only comes once a year), but my plate is as heavy as a slab of granite!

Fair play: I add a small, golf-ball-size portion of everything I want—no restrictions! If I am drooling over the cream-laden sweet potato casserole, I have just enough to satisfy my stomach without overdoing it. I know that there will still be leftovers tomorrow, so I make a point not to eat until my pants get tight. Trying a few bites of my favorite dishes allows me to enjoy Thanksgiving to the fullest without feeling deprived—and I don't stuff myself full.

Foul: Thanksgiving dinner is finished, but I continue to pick at the leftovers.

Fair play: It’s easy for me to lose track of small bites here and there, especially if I am lingering around the dinner table. So, I physically remove myself from the Thanksgiving temptations. I grab a few family members for some calorie-free activity, like a brisk walk around the neighborhood or a lively game, like Taboo or Scattergories. The activity takes my attention away from the food and adds some family fun to Thanksgiving Day.

 

(Istockphoto)

Foul: Feeling bloated and lethargic the day after Thanksgiving.

Fair play: Instead of lounging around in my PJs the day after Thanksgiving, I schedule a fitness date with a friend for early that morning—that way I have to show up! The thought of an early morning run keeps me from having too many glasses of wine during dinner, and knowing I've committed to burning off those extra calories from Thanksgiving allows me to splurge without feeling guilty.

Read Tina's daily food and fitness blog, Carrots 'N' Cake.