Here's 5 tips on staying healthy on Thanksgiving

Wed, Nov 24

With Thanksgiving a day away, here's some tips:

Savor as you chew

Your brain relies on a complex network of signals to determine when your stomach is full, and one of those signals is generated by the act of chewing. A 2009 study found that people consume less food when they focus on chewing each bite for three extra seconds. That means you can cut calories just by spending more time at the dinner table. And hey, being the last still eating gives everybody else first dibs on cleanup duty.

Mash or roast your potatoes. Just don't bake

Few Thanksgiving staples sabotage your meal quicker than baked potatoes. See, not only are they pre-packed in oversized portions, but they're almost always served under requisite blankets of butter and sour cream. Instead, mash your Russets or pan-roast a batch of new potatoes. That will save you an easy 200-to-300 calories.

Drink water before booze

According to a study published in the Journal of Psychology & Behavior, drinking alcohol before eating lowers inhibitions and causes you to consume more calories. But water? It has the opposite effect. It's a zero-calorie beverage that takes up space in your stomach, so you end up feeling stuffed on less food. Aim to guzzle 16 ounces of water before you sit down at the table or pour your first glass of wine.

Stick to pumpkin pie

Of the big-holiday pie players, pumpkin is the clear-cut winner. Each slice of apple or pecan will net you something in the 400- to 450-calorie range, but pumpkin keeps the waistline toll down to about 335 calories. And that's with a shot of low-fat whipped cream on top. And get this: The pumpkin's orange hue is caused by extreme levels of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that improves skin tones and bolsters your immune system.

Use smaller plates

Step one: Toss out all your Frisbee-sized dishes. Step two: replace them with more reasonable, 7- or 8-inch plates. A study published in the journal Obesity found that people who eat from bigger plates carry more body fat. Turns out the bigger plate tricks your eye into thinking you're eating less than you really are, while smaller plates make modest meals look like feasts. That's a tip that will help you lose weight all year round.

Dave Zinczenko is author of "Eat This, Not That 2011."