GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Upstate nutrition experts say overeating on Thanksgiving can often lead to months of bad habits and weight gain.

Bon Secours Registered Dietitian Katie Nowakowski said for many, indulgent eating on Thanksgiving continues well past that one big meal.

“We tend to span out our holidays over months,” she said, explaining that she so she says often recommends that her patients plan ahead before sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner to set themselves up for success.

The day of Thanksgiving, she said to avoid skipping meals, and to have a balanced meal or snack ahead of time. She encourages patients to be selective and mindful of portion sizes when doing this, trying to focus on lean proteins and salad type vegetables.

Before or after your Thanksgiving meal, she stressed the importance of getting moving at some point.

“The important thing is that you get it in at some point… even if it’s going for a walk after dinner or having your family and friends join you for a morning stroll before Thanksgiving or doing 10 jumping jacks while you make that pumpkin pie. Something to help you not only burn calories but help keep you in that healthy mindset,” she said.

Drinking lots of water is important to fight dehydration, she added, which “can lead to overeating and even poor food choices.”

She said to tweak recipes if you can by using ingredients like applesauce or yogurt in place of oils and butter if you’d like to make recipes slightly healthier.

Nowakowski said pumpkin pie is a great choice for dessert over other pies, because it’s easier to lower the sugar content due to the amount of flavor and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. She also recommended choosing to make fresh green beans rather than a green bean casserole.

Finally, she recommended focusing on creating new traditions rather than making the holiday season food-focused.

“[You can do this by] taking some of that focus off of solely the food component and getting to spend some time, whether it be virtual this year, getting some time with your loved ones and making those memories.”

The Centers for Disease Control has more helpful tips specifically for people with diabetes here.

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