U.S. President George W. Bush carries a platter of turkey and fixings as he visits U.S. troops for Thanksgiving at Baghdad International Airport, November 27, 2003. Reuters

Holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas are times when even health-conscious people use these days as cheat days on their diet. During these days, one meal could actually reach the estimated 2,000 calories a day to maintain weight.

Jennifer McDaniel, a registered nutritionist of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says that while there is no average dinner, a varied meal of 600 to 800 calories would fit easily into the 2,000-calorie daily diet.

However, a holiday meal made up of pecan pie, egg nog, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and pecans, cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, mini croissant, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes with gravy, baked ham and red wine is estimated to reach 2,000 calories, Washington Post reports.

Digesting all those rich food depends on a person’s genes, body composition, system’s response to certain hormones and regular exercise and eating habits, McDaniel says. She cites people who work out 12 or fewer hours before a big meal would fare better because of the more sensitive insulin responses of their bodies which allow them to process efficiently the excess carbohydrates ingested.

Sara Haas, spokeswoman of the academy, says that for a healthier Thanksgiving, people should do everything in moderation. She notes that people at Thanksgiving and other holiday events normally scoop up a lot of food on their plate which is when the weight and health problem begins.

Other than getting smaller portions of food, Haas recommends putting down the fork and taking a sip of water between bites to slow down shoveling of food from the plate to the mouth. Before going back for seconds or thirds, wait at least 20 minutes which is the time the body takes to know it is full, Fox reports.

After the holidays, the next step is to burn the extra calories by exercise. Researchers at the University of Granada in Spain recommend combining traditional exercise with electro-stimulation to burn by up to 30 percent more calories.