The holidays can be a difficult time to keep healthy eating habits in check. With food taking center stage at most holiday celebrations – and food options available that you don’t typically indulge in during the rest of the year – it can be easy to get a bit carried away.

There’s no reason not to enjoy the foods you love during Thanksgiving and the winter holidays to follow. The key is to eat as mindfully as possible and to realize that even if you overindulge, one meal won’t completely sabotage your commitment to healthy eating as long as you get yourself right back on track.

Here are 5 tips to help you eat healthier during Thanksgiving:

Pay attention to what goes in your mouth all day. We often lose track of how much we eat as we’re cooking and socializing, before we ever sit down at the table. If you tend to munch mindlessly, have a healthy snack so you’re not so hungry. If you can’t pass up the appetizers and munchies, select your favorites in small portions and put them on a plate. You’re more likely to overindulge if you instinctively pick rather than consciously choosing what food you’ll eat.

Fill half your dinner plate with veggies. When nutrient-dense vegetables fill half your dinner plate, you leave less room for choices that may be filled with fat, sugar or empty calories. Try to pick vegetables that aren’t covered in cheese or rich sauces. Raw, steamed or roasted veggies are your best bets. The more colorful your plate, the better.

Fill another quarter of your plate with lean protein. Skinless turkey is a healthy and lean protein choice, and one that graces most Thanksgiving tables. While white meat turkey is lower in calories and saturated fat than dark meat, the differences in a modest portion won’t make or break your holiday meal. Three ounces of white turkey breast meat weighs in at 115 calories and less than 1 gram of saturated fat. The same amount of dark meat will cost you 160 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat.

Use the last quarter of your plate for the foods you love. It doesn’t matter if you focus in on just one favorite or a taste of everything. As long as you don’t let indulgent side dishes fill more than a quarter of your plate, you won’t be doing too much damage. Since there will only be limited space available on your plate, survey the choices first to decide what is worth it and what you can live without.

Enjoy, but in moderation. There’s no reason to abstain from Thanksgiving goodies if you eat healthy most of the time – just don’t let things get out of control. Only fill your plate once at dinner. Love dessert? That’s okay. Just select your favorite and have one small slice or serving. As long as you don’t overdo portions or eat everything in sight, savor your favorites and get back to your healthy eating routine in the morning.

Sources:

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20545918,00.html

http://www.realsimple.com/health/nutrition-diet/healthy-eating/healthier-thanksgiving

http://www.eatingwell.com/blogs/health_blog/dark_meat_vs_white_meat_which_turkey_is_healthier

http://www.livescience.com/10284-healthy-thanksgiving-5-tips-avoid-overindulging.html