The Biggest Health Mistakes People Make on Thanksgiving

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Whether you will travel to see family this holiday or you will have a small celebration with only people from your household, chances dinner is still going to be a feast. And typical Thanksgiving dinner can amount to 3,000 calories. Appetizers and drinks before, during, and after the meal can add another 1,500, bringing the total to a whopping 4,500 calories in just a few hours. This is about twice the amount a person should consume in a day.

Yes, Thanksgiving is about family and food, but some people drink a lot, too. The combination of too many liquid and food calories can lead to drowsiness, upset stomachs, and headaches the next morning from both the alcohol and the high sugar foods, according to Alyson Pidich, medical director of the Ash Center, a longevity and anti-aging clinic in New York City.

To determine the biggest and most common health mistakes people make on Thanksgiving, 24/7 Tempo asked several doctors, nutritionists, and dietitians to share their observations and tips.

That said, the experts are not perfect themselves. They, too, make some of the same mistakes everyone else does. “I live 12 hours away from my family, so when I do get to go home for a holiday I tend to feel like I need to ‘stock up’ as I won’t have the foods prepared by my family for quite some time,” admits Kayla Fitzgerald, a registered dietitian and nutritionist at Nutrition Rites, a nutrition counseling center.

One day of overeating will not wreak havoc on your body, but Thanksgiving is a slippery slope. It’s a long-weekend holiday that marks the start of a long holiday season — and four days of delicious leftovers that can be made into sandwiches, burgers and casseroles can lead to a trend of overeating, unless you avoid certain mistakes.

Calories can be a scary term. How many should a person consume a day to maintain a healthy weight depends on many factors, including age and size, as well as specific foods and their ingredients. But there are ways to estimate with a fairly small margin of error — here is how long you need to exercise to burn off the calories from your favorite meals.