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Overindulge On Thanksgiving? Health Tips For The Day After

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A half a pumpkin pie is tantalizing you from its spot on the counter. Heaps of leftover stuffing are beckoning from the fridge. And Uncle Bob is mixing up a fresh batch of eggnog. 

The Friday after Thanksgiving can be a tough one for those trying not to overindulge for a second day in a row, and for holiday revelers still recovering from overeating and imbibing too much on turkey day.

"The day after Thanksgiving, I really try to encourage folks to get back on track to their normal routines," said Kim Povec, a registered dietician at the University of Rochester Medical Center's Healthy Living Center.

First off, don't skip breakfast. It won't make up for overeating on Thanksgiving, she said.

"Eating breakfast jump-starts your metabolism for the day. If we don't get enough calories early on in the day, often times we can get very hungry and overeat later in the day, consuming even more calories," said Povec.

She recommends a meal with a balance of protein and complex carbohydrates, such as yogurt with a piece of fruit, oatmeal with nuts on top, or eggs with toast.

If you're craving leftovers by lunch, a turkey sandwich can be on the menu, but consider crafting a healthy version.

"White meat turkey is a very lean protein," said Povec. Add a whole grain bread, lettuce or other green, and maybe a small portion of cranberry cause (it can be high in sugar).

"With leftovers, stuffing is popular. Experiment with half a turkey sandwich with all the decadent items instead of a whole sandwich," she suggested.

The key is to make choices and control portion sizes if you want to indulge in high calorie leftovers.

Add a vegetable at your lunchtime meal, too, Povec recommended. "One that can keep you full, that is higher in fiber -- baby carrots, leftover roasted brussels sprouts, green beans, broccoli. Any time you can add a fruit or vegetable to a meal it's a win/win."

If your vegetable dishes are high in calories and fat, as many Thanksgiving side dishes are, go with modest portions.

"I will never say something is bad for you. If you eat it in a small portion, everything is fine. Let's say you do want an extra slice of pie the day after Thanksgiving. Just have a smaller piece," she said.

But to stay healthy, make trade-offs, even on Thanksgiving Day, Povec suggested. "Would you rather have an extra scoop of mashed potatoes or have a glass of wine?" Choose the indulgences you enjoy most and pass on others.

And think about your long term goals, she suggested. "No one time of overeating is going to make someone gain weight. It's really what you do over the long term," she said.

For those who drink alcohol, don't overdo, no matter what day of the year, Povec said. According to dietary guidelines put out by the government in 2010, Povec said that means up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. One serving equals either 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, 5 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer.

She said staying hydrated after a Thanksgiving Day that involved alcohol is important, too. And minimizing foods high in acid, such as coffee, chocolate, and tomatoes is a good idea if you have indigestion.

Get moving

Getting outside for some exercise the day after Thanksgiving is another way to shake off that overstuffed feeling, said University of Rochester Medicine physical therapist Elizabeth Wetmore. Wetmore, also a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a certified exercise physiologist, said if you skipped a workout on the holiday, return to your regular fitness routine on Friday, and take along family members.

"Make exercise a planned part of your holidays," Wetmore told CBS News. Scheduling it into your calendar like you would a meeting or date will make you more likely to stick to it.

Get family involved, she said. Even though she's a runner, her mom and aunts are not, but Wetmore said she still enjoys taking a holiday walk around the neighborhood when they're all together.

"Ideally you're going to be walking at a brisk pace -- getting your heart rate up -- but if that's not in the wheelhouse, that's' OK," she said. Moving is what's important.

"So many people just sit around and do nothing on the holidays, hanging out around the table, snacking, and before you know it you look down and say, 'Where did all those M&Ms go?'"

Families and friends can switch things up and start a new tradition like a family hike the day after Thanksgiving, for example. Getting everybody a step-counting device or app can create community and spur motivation, Wetmore said.

A soccer or football game in the park is another family exercise option if you have kids or teens in the house. If it's too cold outside, hold a family dance party, especially if younger kids are in the mix.

"Trifecta of trouble"

A piece of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner is one thing; eating and drinking with abandon for the entire holiday season is another.

Lee Jordan, a certified health coach and behavior change specialist, and a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise, said he calls the string of food-oriented holidays from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas "the trifecta of trouble."

"People sort of slip up and are beside themselves by January 1," he said.

He advocates a different approach to the holidays -- don't overdo it in the first place.

"Prepare your mind" before holiday gatherings, Jordan said. "Focus on the people, the relationships and connections. That's what brings joy to us. It's not really predicated on food."

Enjoy the meal, eat in moderation, and be mindful about what you put in your mouth.

But most of all, he said, "Feast on the stories people share and making connections and the joy."

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