The best treatment for a hangover, whether from alcohol or food, is to avoid getting it in the first place. This is no small feat in the case of Thanksgiving, since it’s America’s biggest food holiday by far. You definitely don’t want to feel remorseful about indulging after this festive holiday meal, but the lethargy and headache that can set in the next day might make remorse inevitable.
“The traditional Thanksgiving meal may add up to 3,500 calories,” said Edna Cox, a registered nutritionist and certified specialist in gerontological nutrition at Carolina Nutrition Consultants in Lexington, South Carolina. According to the USDA, maximum recommended consumption for caloric balance is 3,200 calories for an entire day for an active teenage male, 2,400 for his female counterpart.
To determine the best ways to avoid a post-Thanksgiving food hangover, 24/7 Tempo asked several doctors, nutritionists, and dietitians to share their most helpful tips.
“Instead of trying to make the foods we eat on special occasions healthier, we like to focus more on eating well on all the other days of the year and allowing yourself to enjoy your traditional holiday meals without feeling guilty,” Kayla Fitzgerald, a registered dietitian and nutritionist at Nutrition Rites, a nutrition counseling center in Charleston, South Carolina, said.
Overeating during the holiday weekend is not going to have a negative effect on your health if splurging is not common occurrence for you. If, however, you are only strict with your diet during the week and habitually forget about healthy foods on weekends, said Dr. Alyson Pidich, medical director of the Ash Center, a longevity and anti-aging clinic in New York City, then overindulging on Thanksgiving will add on weight because you’ll be eating even more than on your usual days of feasting.
Bingeing on Thanksgiving is not entirely due to weak willpower. There is a biological explanation for why you sometimes seem unable to stop eating: the so-called “hunger hormones,” — ghrelin (which controls appetite) and leptin (which tells your brain you’re full). The more carbs or sugar you consume, the higher your insulin will spike, according to Dr. Daryl Gioffre, a New York City nutritionist, chiropractor, and alkaline diet expert and the author of “Get Off Your Acid.” High insulin levels correlate with high ghrelin levels and can lead to insulin resistance, which is analogous to (though different from) leptin resistance. “You’re basically always hungry and never full,” he added.