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Thanksgiving calories: How many are on your plate?

Research done by the Calorie Control Council shows

Research done by the Calorie Control Council shows that at Thanksgiving dinner alone, diners consume an average of 3,000 calories. Credit: Newsday / Tony Jerome, 2003

If you're like me, you think Thanksgiving dinner is one of the best meals of the entire year.

And while most don't head into this annual chow down expecting a small meal, how many of us really stop to think about just how many calories we're packing into our bodies?

Mounds of mashed potatoes, turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce and so many more delectable choices blindside your waistline, making most wish they'd packed a pair of stretchy pants for post-meal relaxation.

Research done by the Calorie Control Council shows that at Thanksgiving dinner alone, diners consume an average of 3,000 calories -- and that's just dinner. If you take drinks, dips and chips pre- and post-meal into account, another 1,500 calories can be added to that total.

About 4,500 calories. That's around 2 1/4 times higher than a person's suggested average daily calorie intake, if not more.

This figure also does not include breakfast or any late night turkey and stuffing sandwiches that you may eat either, so caloric totals only go up from there.

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The American Heart Association does have some suggestions to help battle the holiday bulge though, offering baking and cooking substitutes to lower caloric and fat contents.

Additionally, they say that getting enough sleep, planning meals and dishes ahead of time to reduce stress can help, as well as starting a family tradition of taking a post-meal walk to burn off some of the food you've consumed.

So maybe this year, instead of packing your favorite sweatpants, bring your favorite sneakers instead.

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