Estimates for calories consumed during a Thanksgiving dinner range from 3,000 to 5,000. What most nutritionist today agree with is that the core of the meal itself is not where most of the calories are, but rather all the other goodies that come with it.

After a summer and early autumn of exercise and good diet, for an unfortunately significant number of people, Thanksgiving is the turning point into the weight-gaining season of dark evenings and comfort foods. Any chance of recovering from that prolonged eating binge is put to sleep by the Christmas season that follows shortly afterwards.

The following tips may help protect you from that slippery slope back to weight gain: Make sure you have breakfast - the worst thing you can do is arrive at the meal starving. People who are super hungry will tend to overeat much more during a feast than those who are not. Remember the vegetables - load the vegetables onto your plate first, they can take up a lot of space. Leave fattening foods for whatever space is left. Chew slowly - chewing slowly will reduce your calorie intake per minute, and also allow your body to feel full quicker, compared to wolfing the food down quickly. Know when you are satisfied - it is a common mistake for people to eat until they are full. The meaning of full can mean satisfied or bursting at the seams. Stop eating when you are no longer hungry, when you are satisfied. Don't wait until you are unable to eat any more. Avoid the turkey skin - turkey skin is mainly fat and has a lot of calories. Go easy on the side dishes - although they may appear as tasty afterthoughts that you can enjoy without consequence, side dishes can add up very quickly into a surprising number of calories. Focus more on your lean turkey and vegetables. Lookout for hidden fats - harmless foods such as green beans, mashed potatoes and some soups may be laden with butter and other fats. If you are not in charge of the cooking, you will have to go easy on them if you know they are full of fat. If you are cooking, remember that cauliflower has fewer calories than potatoes - mashed potatoes consisting of 25% cauliflower tastes just as nice, in fact, most people will think there are just potatoes. Hydration - remember that water prevents dehydration, not alcoholic drinks, sugary sodas or coffee. Water has no calories. Go for a walk on Thanksgiving morning. If you manage to limit your meal to 2,500 calories, your one-hour morning walk would have burned up 10% of them. Eggs - if you are cooking remember that egg yolk is virtually pure fat while egg-white is protein. More than one Thanksgiving dinner - most Americans will sit down at two or more big meals during Thanksgiving. Two eating binges, one day after the next, will set your healthy lifestyle plans right back. Choose and pick what you eat in one meal, and eat the other stuff in the other meal. Don't deny yourself stuff you love - if you love or crave something, allow yourself a couple of bites of it. Remember, portion control is the secret for long-term success, not virtuous abstention. Second helpings - absolutely not!! If you have eaten slowly, chewed carefully, drunk plenty of water, you should not be so hungry that you need a second round. If your hosts insist, politely stand your ground and say "No, thank you." Finger foods - unless you are completely sure they are health foods or very low calorie ones, avoid them. Finger foods lead to fast eating, while stuff that requires a knife and fork takes longer to get into your mouth, and down into your stomach. Don't be overambitious - Thanksgiving is a time of celebration and feasting. If you are on a weight-loss regimen, you might be better off aiming for weight-maintenance during the holiday period, rather than weight loss. If you eat carefully, do some exercise, keep an eye on your portions, etc., keeping your weight the same is not hard. If you aim to continue losing weight during the holiday and find that you haven't, your motivation may be undermined, significantly raising the risk of giving it all up. Some people may take drastic measures so that they can feast to their heart's content. A marathon run in the morning would definitely solve things all in one go. Two-hours on an elliptical machine (cross-trainer) would probably use up from 30% to 60% of your dinner, depending on your training intensity and how much you eat afterwards. The after-effects of vigorous exercise of long-duration will also use up calories for a long time after the exercise.

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