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A Healthy Thanksgiving? It's Possible!

Somehow, we've come to equate food with love, and Thanksgiving is the ultimate reminder. The holiday kicks off a season of feasting with family and friends, recipe passing and trading, and friendly cook-offs.

It's a time to go all out, with giant piles of marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes and roasted turkey—free of judgment. This year, even one of Hollywood's top personal trainers, Harley Pasternak, says we should eat what we want on Thanksgiving guilt-free. (Glad we're on the same page!)

But if you're not about that lifestyle or working off that postpartum pooch, here are some great tips to have a healthier Thanksgiving.

RELATED: The Lazy Cook's Guide to Thanksgiving

1. Smaller portion sizes

"My advice is to do everything in moderation. Normally, people scoop up mounds of stuff on their plate, and that's where it gets to be a problem. But if you can handle small portion sizes, then that's fine," said Sara Haas, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to CNN.

2. Take breaks

Whether it's taking sips of water between bites or waiting 20 minutes before going back for seconds, putting the fork down can give your body enough time to remember that, yes, you are actually full.

3. Balance the meal with healthy breakfast or lunch

"Think about how much better you'll feel by the time you get to Thanksgiving dinner," Haas said.

Also, forgoing meals until dinner is a no-no. It's just not ideal for your metabolism. Waiting more than an hour to eat breakfast will slow you down, and spiking glucose levels too early will make it impossible to even out.

4. Burn it off gradually

Sticking to your normal exercise routine or exercising for fun (like touch football or tossing the Frisbee around) can help burn off that pecan pie.

"You cannot out-exercise a bad diet," Pasternak said. "And not only that, you're going to end up increasing your appetite."

5. Cook lighter dishes

Whether you cut back on the sugar or substitute artificial ingredients, adjusting your recipes a bit can do a lot of good. Here are some healthy alternatives to try.

5 Healthy Pumpkin Recipes

10 Vegetarian Alternatives to Turkey

Healthy Snacks to Graze on All Day

7 Thanksgiving Sides That Will Make You Love Sides

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