Health experts note you can enjoy eating well during Thanksgiving without overindulging that may result in weight gain and other health issues. (Courtesy photo)

 As families across Southern California gather at the Thanksgiving dining table to enjoy a hearty, health experts at Kaiser Permanente note it’s important to remember that you can still indulge in eating a filling meal without overeating, which can result in detriments to your health. 

“If we overeat, we’ll beat ourselves up for overindulging,” said Joel Castañeda, a health educator with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “If you’re following a meal plan or eating healthy throughout the year, it’s still important to enjoy Thanksgiving and any holiday meals after that without overeating, as that can result in significant weight gain.” 

According to Castañeda, who practices in Downey, there are certain steps you can take before and during your meal to ensure you will enjoy your Thanksgiving meal without overeating that can result in unhealthy weight gain, having difficulty falling asleep, an upset stomach, or “food coma.” 

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He offered important tips such as not skipping meals and having breakfast and lunch so you won’t be too hungry and overeat during Thanksgiving dinner; making sure you control your portions, not going for seconds, and savoring every single bite of your meal by eating slowly, and putting your fork down in between bites. 

According to Cynthia Bañuelos, another Health Educator with Kaiser Permanente Southern California who also practices in Downey, one good approach to eating a healthy Thanksgiving dinner is to portion out food on your plate. That means having ½ of your plate consist of non-starchy vegetables such as green beans and Brussels sprouts; ¼ of lean protein, such as a turkey breast; and ¼ carbohydrate, such as mashed potatoes.

“When we eat, our body uses some of those calories we consume as a form of energy, explained Bañuelos. “Any excess number of calories is stored as fat. If you consume more calories that you burn, this may cause you to become overweight or obese. As a result, this will increase your risk for cancer and other chronic health conditions. Even occasional overeating can cause some negative effects on your body.”

If you find yourself unable to follow all these steps, Castañeda noted doing the best you can is often a good start.

“Indulging in an occasional meal doesn’t mean that you’re a failure,” he explained. “Instead, after the meal, go for a walk outside, meditate, and treasure the memories of the meal together with friends and family, and be grateful that you’re able to enjoy a delicious meal with your loved ones. This is OK as long as you don’t make a habit out of overeating, as that is not good for your health!”