Tuesday, October 21, 2014 · 6:22 a.m.
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Despite the number of overindulgences available during the Thanksgiving holiday, staying healthy is possible by following these tips, officials say. (Photo: MGNOnline)

Thanksgiving is the kickoff of a season that includes quality time with friends and loved ones, as well as many opportunities to indulge in some less-than-healthy dietary choices.

Parkridge Health System dietitian Jamie Welch offers the following tips to help those who are attempting to maintain healthy habits during the holidays.

—Be consistent with eating habits. Although holidays are the busiest time of year for most people, as we strive to fit in extra events and duties into already-hectic schedules, it is important to not skip meals, Welch said. Skipping meals can lead to overeating when you do finally get the chance to sit down to eat. 

“Try to eat regular meals as much as possible, and keep healthier snacks, such as fruit and veggies, meal-replacement bars or trail mix, with you when you are on the go,” Welch said in a prepared statement. “Having a healthy option close at hand may also make it easier to resist holiday treats in the break room at work or in the kitchen at home.”

—Be aware of what you eat. Mindless munching, such as the bowl of M&M's or potato chips, can quickly add up to your total number of allotted calories per day. 

“Remember that portion control is key, and try to limit high-fat foods that are creamy, fried or cheese-filled,” Welch said. 

Click here to see what a properly portioned meal looks like.

—Fool your eyes. Studies have shown that using a dessert plate instead of a dinner plate for your meal can help you avoid overeating. 

—Slow down. It can take the brain a while to register fullness from the stomach, and eating slowly helps alleviate this. 

“Take time to enjoy your meal, and delay going back for a second helping until you are absolutely certain that you are actually still hungry,” Welch said. “Listen to your body.”

—Get a serving of exercise after a meal. Light physical activity, such as a walk, after a large dinner can help lower the rise in blood sugar and improve the function of arteries. 

Click here for more tips on eating healthy and staying in shape over the season.

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