Thanksgiving is all about the food, family, and fun…. but especially about the food! It’s been reported that on average, Americans tend to consume more than 4,500 calories at Thanksgiving dinner alone per reports from the Calorie Control Council. And there is other research to back up that we tend to over-consume around this holiday. For example, a 2006 study reported the average American gained 1.5 pounds of fat and went from 25% to 27% body fat from Thanksgiving to New Years Eve.
So when clients began to ask “What should I eat on Thanksgiving” knowing that Dietitians of Palm Valley preaches healthy food choices AND the flexibility to still indulge in all your favorite goodies… I began to do some research and crunch some numbers.
Your traditional Thanksgiving dinner includes roughly these foods and portion sizes:
- 1 cup fresh vegetables (50 calories)
- 6 ounces turkey (260 calories)
- ½ cup gravy (200 calories)
- ½ cup sweet potato casserole (300-350 calories)
- 1 cup stuffing (300 calories)
- ½ cup mashed potatoes with butter (130-160 calories)
- ¼ cup cranberry sauce (100-120 calories)
- 1 small dinner roll with 1 tbsp butter (150 calories)
- 1 slice apple pie with whipped cream and 1 scoop ice cream (450 calories)
In total, this meals stacks up to almost 2,085 calories! If that number doesn’t surprise you… this could be the total food intake you may need in AN ENTIRE DAY!
But before we go any further, I want to make something clear: THANKSGIVING FOOD IS NOT THE PROBLEM! What contributes to this gluttony is the mindset we portray around the meal and our actions that lead up to Thanksgiving dinner.
While restricting dessert (as miserable as that sounds) or saying “hey- let’s just skip out on the bread, potatoes, and stuffing to avoid carbohydrates” sounds like an easy solution to reduce how many calories you eat, what if I told you I had some easy tips to cut out almost 1,000 calories of your Thanksgiving dinner without feeling deprived the whole time. Well, here are my tips:
- Eat a normal breakfast and stay on track with your normal diet as much as possible. Saving your calories until the party often ends in overeating!
- Avoiding mindless grazing that often leads to overeating. Instead of nibbling on everything in sight, plate your pre-dinner snacks to know how much you’re actually eating.
- Realize that there will be leftovers, so watch your portions!! There is no need to eat all of your food as if you’d never have it again. There are ALWAYS delicious leftovers so you’ll definitely be able to have your favorite Thanksgiving foods later on for round two.