Save Your Waistline This Thanksgiving

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"Gobble 'til you wobble" is not a suggestion, but a way of life, observed by most Americans on Thanksgiving Day.

Not surprisingly, the average holiday dinner plate is piled full of nearly 3,000 calories, according to the Calorie Control Council (yes, it is real), as recently quoted in this article. It goes on to say, "many nibble through another 1,500 calories, downing appetizers and drinks before and after the big meal."

But the big day doesn't need to consume two entire days' worth of your suggested caloric intake. You can save big by making small changes.

Changing your mindset

Between Halloween candy, office and school gatherings, treats, and cheer, it's easy to see why we pack on a few extra pounds that often linger long after the decorations come down.

As someone in a health care training program, you've probably already experienced a shift in mindfulness regarding your own health.

Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to making decisions that have lasting consequences.

Plating with purpose

Practicing mindfulness doesn't mean eliminating the foods you love. It's simply an approach rooted in making wise choices by planning ahead of time and thinking holistically about your goals, rather than just the day.

Take these three, three-word tips for a test drive this Thanksgiving:

Practice Portion Control: One way that we doom ourselves is by "saving all our calories" for one meal. By not eating a balanced breakfast and lunch, we end up overeating.

Beat the temptation to overindulge by treating Thanksgiving dinner like a normal meal.

Save by Swapping: Lightening up classic favorites is as easy as a simple switch.

Case in point - substituting one cup of regular mashed potatoes (237) with one cup of mashed cauliflower will save roughly 177 calories - or, having to walk the dog at a moderate pace for 43 minutes.

Curious about other swaps? This My Fitness Pal infographic has 9 swaps that can save you nearly 2,000 calories.

Add some activity: Rage against the carb-coma and fight the need to nap by penciling some activity into your festivities.

Your health care training program has likely taught you that even moderate exercise can make a substantial difference in your overall wellness.

So, set your DVR to record the game and have a pickup one of your own. Grab a ball and shoot some hoops or check out who in the neighborhood just couldn't quite wait to get those Christmas lights up.

Take control this year. Put your thankfulness in action by showing your body how much you care and value your health. Practice portion control. Save by swapping. And add some activity.

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