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How to burn off your Thanksgiving calories

9:34 AM, Nov 21, 2012   |    comments
Thanksgiving meal (Courtesy: Detroit Free Press)
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Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY

You probably don't want to get up from Thanksgiving dinner feeling rounder than the turkey, but you may not want to fret about calories on this special holiday. So what to do?

Consider taking a walk, a long one.

If you go whole hog eating heaping portions, going back for seconds and enjoying pumpkin, pecan and apple pie with ice cream, and having a couple glasses of wine, you could wind up eating 4,000 calories or more. That's about 2,000 calories more than many people need in a day.

To burn off those extra 2,000 calories, a 180-pound person would have to walk briskly (about 3.5 miles an hour on a level surface) for 5 hours or more, says Heather Mangieri, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a sports nutritionist in Pittsburgh. "Take a flashlight."

Or better yet, try to walk an extra hour a day for the next week, Mangieri says.

The scary thing is even if you watch your portions and choices, the calorie count climbs quickly, she says.

To show this, she tallied the calories in some favorite Thanksgiving foods. She found that a holiday meal with many of the trimmings (turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, cranberry salad, rolls, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, apple cider and wine) has about 1,610 calories and about 40 grams of fat. That's with no heaping portions or seconds.

To burn off most of the calories in that meal, a 180-pound person would have to walk briskly for more than four and a half hours.

Mangieri advises people to eat slowly, savor their meal and stop eating when they're full. "If you do that then you can spend your Thanksgiving counting your blessing rather than your calories."

USA TODAY

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