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Overeating: a Thanksgiving 'tradition' that you can avoid

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SALT LAKE CITY — Thanksgiving is the holiday known for gratitude and overeating — one makes you feel good, and the other makes you feel awful. What can you do to curb overeating during your Thanksgiving meal?

Thanksgiving is associated with many different foods, and most of us have of our favorites: turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, yams, pumpkin pie … or all of the above.

Since most people love Thanksgiving dinner, you might think that we would eat slowly and savor every bite.

"There's almost become this energy about Thanksgiving where it's eat as much as you can as quickly as you can, so you can get more in," said Kary Woodruff, dietitian at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital.

But simply put, we overeat because we're not paying attention to signals from our body when we eat quickly.

"We haven't actually stopped to pause to say, ‘Hey, how am I feeling'?" Woodruff said. "It takes 20-30 minutes at least for food to start to be digested and for our stomach to tell our brain that we're full."

So this Thanksgiving, make a commitment to avoid "gobble-guilt" with these mealtime tricks.

"We want to make sure we're not skipping meals leading up to Thanksgiving, because if we are, we're more likely to be overly hungry and more likely to overeat," Woodruff said.

Woodruff recommends slowing down — which you can do by putting your fork down or sipping water between bites — and focus on the conversation at the table and say ‘no' to second helpings.

She also said that picking and choosing your favorite items and leaving the less appealing options behind can curb overeating.

"Be choosy with what you're going to get, and decide what's worth it to you — what you think you'll really enjoy," Woodruff said.

Woodruff said that it's not uncommon to eat nearly 3,000 calories at Thanksgiving dinner. And since there's 3,500 calories in a pound, it's no wonder we feel physically uncomfortable when we overeat at Thanksgiving.

"Just think about how you feel after you're done overeating, and it's never a fun experience. We never are grateful that we overate," Woodruff said. "Enjoy the food — don't have it be something where you're immediately regretting what you just did."

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