12/28/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

It's Not The Thanksgiving Dinner, It's the Leftovers

If you are watching your weight, Thanksgiving can be an ambivalent holiday for you. While the idea is to give thanks and be grateful for what we have, it is accompanied by lots and lots of food.

At the obesity clinic, where I work, we often add up the calories in a typical Thanksgiving meal. The totals range from 1,000 to 5,000 calories. In order to gain one pound of fat, you need to take in 3,500 calories over and above your maintenance calories. So, if you are a woman, and weigh 150 lbs., without exercise you get about 1,500 calories a day to maintain your weight. To gain a pound, on any given day, you would need to eat 5,000 calories.

Even if you overeat at Thanksgiving, what you do on that one day will not determine your weight a year from now. It is what you do on average, over time, that determines what you weigh. However, if you have lots of leftovers and overeat them for days and days, you can gain some significant weight. My advice is to get rid of the leftovers ASAP. Let yourself enjoy the day, the meal, the company and then send the pie, stuffing, potatoes, etc... home with your guests. If you can't get your guests to take them, bring them to your nearest homeless shelter and share with those less fortunate. They will appreciate it and your body will too.

Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. I would also like to say thank you to all of you who have taken the time to take the survey for my upcoming book about the process of weight control. You are helping others by doing so and I greatly appreciate it.

That's if for now. Good luck and Happy Holiday!

If you'd like to participate in the research for Irene's new book about the process of weight loss, please visit take the survey.

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