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Thanksgiving Day strategies to stave off weight gain

Brent Hofacker

Before you pile on another helping of twice baked sweet potato soufflé, listen up. There are a few things you can do to lighten your calorie load at the Thanksgiving feast.

The average American will consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day alone, according to the Calorie Control Council.

If Thanksgiving is your only day of indulgence over the holiday season, then, by all means go for it. But if Thanksgiving simply marks the start of stuffing your face through the holidays, you may want to try tweaking your favorite traditional recipes.

Try trading that 500-calorie helping of sweet potato soufflé for a simpler version: Bake a sweet potato, add just a small dab of butter and brown sugar, and you've shaved off over 250 calories. And stick to leaner white meat instead of dark when gobbling up the turkey.

While the turkey is in the oven for a few hours, instead of grazing on appetizers, consider spending the afternoon serving those less fortunate. Studies have shown that giving makes people feel a greater sense of well-being and can decrease stress levels. Signing up to help make meals for the homeless the morning of Thanksgiving can provide many benefits for others and for yourself.

For a few more strategies to stay healthy this holiday, CBS News spoke with Dr. Nancy Simpkins, a board certified internist and a medical consultant for the state of New Jersey. Here are her favorite suggestions to make your Thanksgiving a little healthier:

Q: Do you have any words of wisdom to prevent people from overindulging this Thanksgiving?

A: The best way to control your eating on Thanksgiving Day is to start the day with at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise (running, walking, spinning, etc). In addition, people make the mistake of coming to the Thanksgiving table starving. This is not a good idea. One hour before the Thanksgiving get-together, have something like an apple and peanut butter to partially fill you and not allow you to overeat.

Q: What are your favorite Thanksgiving foods?

A: My favorite food is the stuffing and the Jell-O mold. I wish I could say my favorite food was the turkey but it's the stuffing!

Q: What are some easy ways to make these foods healthier?

There are many ways to make healthier stuffing, for example using quinoa or brown rice as opposed to white bread.

Q: When feeling tempted to go back for seconds, what can someone do to stop himself?

A: Ask yourself, "How will I feel later if I overeat?" The answer most probably is tired and bloated. How to avoid this feeling? Pace yourself and eat slowly. There are always leftovers the next day!

Q: If you do end up eating the 4,500 calories many people end up eating, how much does this throw off your system?

A: So if you decide to overindulge and regret it soon after, try taking a fast-acting acid reducer. My favorite is the F.A.S.T. First Aid Shot Therapy for upset stomach, which will help prevent bloating and gas pains.

If you notice your scale is up 1 or 2 pounds the next day, get back to routine, eat healthy, and exercise, and the additional weight will fall off.

Q: How can we get back on track after eating too much on Thanksgiving?

A: Start off Friday morning with a healthy smoothie (fruits, vegetables, and almond milk or yogurt) and stick to lean protein and lots of water for the day. Make sure to exercise, as your metabolism will be raised.

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