Carve out the calories not the taste 8 ways to lighten up your Turkey Day

Who’s excited for Thanksgiving dinner? We  are! Who’s not excited about the  calorie binge and food coma? We’re not! Who knows the average Thanksgiving meal weighs in at 4,500 calories with a whopping 229 grams of fat? Now you do! Ouch!

Here’s the good news: you can still enjoy all your favorite treats and cut your calorie intake in half just by watching your portions. Use these suggestions to keep your plate from buckling and your pant buttons from popping.

Here’s how to build a tasty meal for less than 1,500 calories:

  1. Turkey: 3 ounces

    Calories: 132
    This would be about the size of a deck of cards. Bonus points: pick white meat instead of dark meat! 

  2. Gravy: ¼ cup

    Calories: 50
    This would be about the size of a golf ball. Bonus points: If you are making your gravy from scratch, try straining off the fat.

  3. Potatoes: ½ cup

    Calories: 145
    This would be about the size of a tennis ball cut in half. Bonus points: Use low-fat milk and less butter.

  4. Stuffing: ½ cup

    Calories: 180
    This would be about the size of a standard ice cream scoop. Bonus points: replace a portion of the breadcrumbs with chopped onions or vegetables. 

  5. Cornbread: 1 medium muffin or square

    Calories: 175 without butter
    This would be about the size of a bar of soap. Bonus points: Skip the slab of butter on top.

  6. Butter: 1 teaspoon

    Calories: 36
    This would be about the size of 1 die. Bonus points: try your food without added butter first. Remember most Thanksgiving foods are made with butter.

  7. Cranberry sauce: ¼ cup

    Calories: 105
    This is about the size of a golf ball. Bonus points: go easy on portion size. It’s mostly sugar anyway.

  8. Pie: 1/8th of a 9-inch pie

Calories: 456 for pecan, 323 for pumpkin
This would be about the size of a standard light bulb. Bonus points: skip the crust to save lots of calories and fat.

Grand total: 1373 calories


Some other things you probably won’t skip:

  1. Alcoholic beverage: 150 -- 400 calories
  2. For those over 21, each glass of wine or beer will add at least 150 calories to your count. A cup of eggnog will triple that.
  3. Pre-dinner snacks: 360 calories
  4. Cheese and crackers can quickly add calories. Two pieces of cheese and six crackers contain 360 calories. And come on, who just eats two pieces of cheese?
  5. Late night turkey sandwich: 590 calories

You may think you are putting those leftovers to good use but one of these sandwiches has about 590 calories. OMG—we know we will be thinking twice about this one!

Let’s not forget you can do some calorie burning on Thanksgiving Day too. Taking a 30 minute walk can burn anywhere from 90 -- 200 calories and helps you feel better.

Yes, we know 1373 calories—more than what’s recommended for a typical meal—is still a lot, but it’s a special day and a little over-indulgence every now and then is OK. You can always get back on track the next day.

Happy holidays from all of us here at the LRC!

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