Thanksgiving Feast…Don’t Bust Your Waistline!
Did you know that according to research from the Calorie Control Council, the average
American may consume more than 4,500 calories and a whopping 229 grams of fat from
snacking and eating a traditional holiday dinner with turkey and all the trimmings! I am
sure you are thinking, but there is no way that I eat that much, those are for people that
are just being excessive. I thought the same thing too, so I did the math and wanted to
share some of what I found and then provide you with some healthier alternatives.
The main meal:
If you add up the above and assume you only have one plate of food, you are already
looking at 2,175 calories and that does not even include the appetizers you most likely ate
before, which tend to be mostly finger foods. When you eat finger foods you are also less
likely to portion them out, which ultimately lead to eating more than you normally would
if you sat down and ate them like a regular meal. The average person consumes between
500-1000 calories munching on finger foods waiting for the big feast. This calorie count
does not include alcohol or dessert either. Add a glass of wine can add between 100-150
calories per glass! Often during Thanksgiving rather than having only a slice of your
favorite pie or one serving of your favorite dessert, you tend to “sample” which
commonly leads to even more calories racking up.
- Turkey: 8 oz. of dark meat (with skin) has about 420 calories, 17g of fat, 0 carbs
- Stuffing: 1 cup has about 300 calories and 18g fat and over 40 carbs
- Green Bean Casserole: 1 serving has 160 calories, 9g of fat, & 17g of carbs
- Mashed Potatoes: 1 cup has 235 calories, 9g fat, 35g of carbs. Add ¼ cup of gravy and get another 200 calories, 16g of fat, & 8g carbs
- Cranberry Sauce (canned): 1 slice has about 85 calories, no fat, & 22g of carbs
- Cornbread: 1 piece has about 175 calories, 5g of fat, & 28g carbs
- Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows: 1 large scoop has about 600 calories, 9g of fat, and a whopping 130 carbs!
So ultimately if you ate the meal above, added in a few appetizers, 2 glasses of wine, and
had 1 slice of apple pie a la mode, you would have consumed well over 3,000 calories.
Maybe not as bad as you think, but the fat content and amount of carbs you just
consumed for that same meal is around 100g of fat and about 400 carbs! These numbers
are nearly TRIPLE of what is your recommended daily allowance. So, how do we get
through Thanksgiving without completely blowing it?
First, let’s start off by either serving, or bringing, healthy appetizers such as vegetables
and Greek yogurt ranch dip. Steamed shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce (or one that
is purchased but low in sugar) is another healthier option. You can also serve/bring low
fat cheeses with whole wheat crackers and/or sliced peppers, carrots, and celery with
Next, never eat the skin and opt for the white meat as there is so much less fat in this part
of the turkey. Serve a few favorite sides that you are staples at your table, but add corn,
steamed carrots/green beans/broccoli as well. For mashed potatoes, make them with low
fat milk and reduce the amount of butter used in making them. For sweet potatoes, skip
the marshmallows all together and save about 100g of carbs by serving them just baked
instead. If you want them a little sweeter, perhaps add a little lite syrup drizzled over the
top or sprinkle just a little brown sugar on them after brushing them gently with 1
tablespoon of melted butter (use a brush and do not pour it directly onto them).
Finally, for dessert, limit yourself to your favorite one or 2 much smaller portions if you
must have 2 items. Include a fruit bowl as an option that consists of melon and berries;
however, try to avoid high sugar fruits, such as watermelon and grapes since you will
already be eating higher carb amounts throughout the day. Also, if you must have coffee,
watch adding milk and sugar as this will add even more carbs and sugar to your daily
Another thing I encourage you to do, is get moving! Whether it is to sign up for a local
Turkey Trot, head to your local gym/CKO for a super sweaty workout, play “Just Dance”
on your XBOX/Wii or you simply head outside for a friendly game, like tossing the
football, get moving! I now host Thanksgiving at my house so I understand that it is hard
to prepare everything and then still get a workout in, but I try to prepare as much as I can
the days leading up to the big day. I wake up early in the morning & put the turkey in the
oven and rather than go back to sleep, I go for my own Turkey Trot. I mark the course
before and then get out and run it. I even purchase medals from US Road Running
because I will never display a medal that I have not earned so that forces me that no
matter how cold or tired I am, to get out & run! While you may only burn a fraction of
the calories you will be consuming, feel great knowing that you got moving and earned your meal!
- Pecan pie: 1 slice has about 500 calories, 25g of fat & 62g of carbs
- Pumpkin pie: 1 slice has about 316 calories, 14g of fat & 41g of carbs
- Apple pie: 1 slice has about 70 calories, 3g of fat & 10g of carbs
- Chocolate Cream Pie: 1 piece has about 380 calories, 18g of fat & 50 of carbs
- Vanilla Ice Cream: ½ cup has about 145 calories, 8g of fat & 17g of carbs