Your Thanksgiving Dinner Has How Many Calories?

November 17, 2021

Your Thanksgiving Dinner Has How Many Calories?

My how those holiday treats add up. The typical Thanksgiving Day meal includes turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and a glass of wine.

If you ate one serving of each of these things your calorie intake for that meal alone would be 1,814 calories.

That’s right — 1,814 calories. Even if you love exercise, you’d need an hours-long workout to burn such a giant amount of food.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • 8 ounces of turkey – 480 calories
  • 1 cup serving mashed potatoes and gravy – 257 calories
  • 1 cup stuffing – 350 calories
  • 1 cup cranberry sauce – 257 calories
  • 1 slice pumpkin pie – 350 calories
  • 6-ounce glass of wine –120 calories

Here are some tips on how to cut the calories and still enjoy all the Thanksgiving fixins.

  • Remove the skin from turkey, eat the white meat.
  • Whip mashed potatoes with skim milk and roasted garlic instead of butter and whole milk or cream.
  • Oven-bake stuffing with sautéed onions and celery. Try this recipe.
  • Skip the green bean casserole and enjoy fresh, steamed green beans, topped with slivered almonds.
  • Instead of brown sugar and marshmallows, flavor sweet potatoes with apple juice and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  • Lighter whipped toppings can have full flavor with less than half the calories. Try this lighter version of pumpkin pie, parfait style.
  • Use whole cranberry sauce rather than jellied cranberry sauce. Try this recipe using fresh cranberries.
  • Choose whole-wheat, high-fiber breads and rolls.

Avoid Super-Sizing Your Holiday Meal

If you’re not careful, you can consume a whole day’s worth of calories – or more – at one sitting. Here are some ways to “right-size” your holiday meals:

  • Control portions with smaller plates or bowls. Save your extra calories for a special holiday treat you only get once a year.
  • Slice your favorite pie into 10 pieces instead of eight. Or, skip dessert altogether and savor a piece of peppermint instead.
  • Compare a teaspoon and tablespoon of butter so you have a better idea of how to use teaspoon-sized portions.
  • Smaller wine glasses can help you cut calories while enjoying your meal.

Finally, don’t overlook the simple things to keep everything in balance this holiday season:

  • Don’t pass on the protein. Include lean proteins in snacks and meals to help balance carbohydrate-rich foods.
  • Get moving. Take a pre-meal walk or run, or organize a post-meal activity, hike or game.
  • Share veggies and fruit at potlucks to balance out other heavier foods.


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