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Make Thanksgiving your diet 'cheat day'

By Alia Hoyt, upwave.com
updated 9:18 AM EST, Thu November 28, 2013
Thanksgiving feasting doesn't have to wreck your diet. Here are some tips for making the holiday your diet cheat day.
Thanksgiving feasting doesn't have to wreck your diet. Here are some tips for making the holiday your diet cheat day.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dieters who feel deprived are more likely to binge, research shows
  • Limiting alcohol consumption can be key to avoiding disaster
  • Pay attention to your body's fullness cues

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(CNN) -- If you've been working your butt off (literally) to get or stay in shape, Turkey Day may feel like the end times for your diet... but it doesn't have to be!

Every good dieter deserves a cheat day, so why not make Thanksgiving yours? The occasional splurge can actually help your long-term weight loss prospects and allow you to truly enjoy yourself, so long as you maintain a sense of healthy perspective (or at least limit the cheating to Thanksgiving Day, not "the holidays").

upwave: 6 quick tips to avoid holiday weight gain

Good: Indulge... in moderation

Thanksgiving is a day to soak up the beauty of family, friends and life in general, so take this opportunity to kick back and enjoy yourself. "A splurge here and there is perfectly fine," says Tammy Lakatos Shames, dietitian, personal trainer, upwave reviewer and one of The Nutrition Twins. "It helps for people to know that they can indulge in a small amount of food to enjoy, especially when they're working to be healthy all the time."

In fact, research has shown that people who feel deprived are more likely to binge than those who allow themselves a treat here and there. So if you're worried about breaking your diet but don't want to miss out on all those scrumptious Thanksgiving treats, make moderation your mantra.

upwave: Can eating mindfully help you lose weight?

Better: Eat what you want, but limit your alcohol consumption

An adult beverage here or there is no biggie, but really tying one on will quickly turn a perfectly good cheat day into a potential disaster. Lyssie Lakatos, the other half of the The Nutrition Twins, urges dieters to avoid drinking.

"It lowers inhibitions... and is full of added calories," she says. She and her sister often advise clients to alternate seltzer with alcoholic beverages to limit the booze's negative side effects.

Adds Shames, "Lots of times you start with the alcohol on an empty stomach, so hold off by filling your stomach with other things and starting with a non-caloric beverage first."

upwave: 7 diet don'ts for parties

Best: Focus on fullness

If you really want some oyster stuffing and sweet potato soufflé, have some -- but make sure you savor each bite slowly, rather than shoveling it in. (After all, if you forget to enjoy yourself, the purpose of the splurge is defeated.)

Eat until you're satiated, but pay attention to your fullness cues. If you're already stuffed but everyone's still loitering around the table and picking at the turkey carcass, drink a big glass of water or chew a piece of gum to avoid joining them.

The trick to having an effective cheat day is making sure that it doesn't leak over to the next day (and the day after that). So when you get up on Friday, consider your diet to be back on -- regardless of how many calories you consumed on Thanksgiving Thursday. Gobble, gobble!

This article was originally published on upwave.com.

Embrace the cheat day (on your diet, that is)

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