How many calories do you consume during your Thanksgiving Day feast? With a little planning, you can cut the calories in half and still have a delicious time!
|Typical Thanksgiving Dinner||Calories||Calorie-Controlled Thanksgiving Dinner||Calories|
|8 ounces champagne||170||4 ounces champagne||85|
|6 ounces turkey, white and dark meat||345||6 ounces turkey, white meat with no skin||230|
|½ cup gravy||60||¼ cup gravy||30|
|1 cup of stuffing||500||½ cup stuffing||250|
|2 candied sweet potatoes||285||½ cup of acorn squash, with 1 teaspoon of diet margarine||170|
|1 cup buttered green beans||70||1 cup of unbuttered green beans||35|
|2 buttered rolls||240||2 rolls||170|
|¼ cup canned cranberry sauce||105||¼ cup low-sugar cranberry sauce||85|
|1 slice of pecan pie with whipped cream||520||1 slice of pumpkin pie||175|
In the lower calorie meal, a variety of tricks were used to reduce the calories to almost half those of a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
- Watch what you drink. Sip the champagne and don’t let your host refill your glass. Before the champagne or wine, try to drink a tall glass of water, diet soda or other noncaloric beverage. When your thirst is satisfied, you won’t guzzle the booze. You could drink a Virgin Bloody Mary and get the nutritional benefits of the tomato juice.
- Choose white meat. White turkey meat is very lean and low calorie. Try to avoid the skin and large portions of the dark meat.
- Go easy on the gravy. The average gravy ladle holds about 2 tablespoons and 120 calories, so use gravy very sparingly. If you are the cook, de-fat the stock before you thicken the gravy. You can also use the de-fatted stock to flavor the stuffing and moisten the turkey without adding mounds of butter or margarine.
- Skip the butter. Avoid the sauces and shiny, buttered dishes. Fat in the form of oil, butter, margarine, gravy, meat fat or skin greatly increases the calories. Consider not buttering your roll, or skip it to save room for dessert. If you are serving, plan to offer a tray of raw vegetables and low-fat dip before the meal next to the nuts and cheese dip. With the meal, offer a vegetable dish seasoned without butter and oil and for those who are watching their weight.
- Watch portion sizes. Just by taking less food, even though you want to taste it, can cut the calories in half! Stuffing and mashed potatoes are very dense in calories, and if there is no lower calorie version offered, just eat sparingly.
- Eat slower and eat less. Nibble on your meal slowly. Your body takes a while to let you know it’s full. If you wait, you’ll find yourself satisfied with less food.
- Avoid too much sugar. Sugar also increases calories. Cranberry sauce is loaded with sugar. You can make the recipe with less sugar, or try a sugar substitute.
- Dessert choices really count. Pumpkin and apple pies have half the calories of pecan pie. Most of the fat in any pie is in the crust. You could leave some of the crust on your plate, or pass up the whipped cream or ice cream topping. You can simply ask for just a sliver of pie to get a taste — because you are feeling satisfied and don’t want to feel stuffed.
- Don’t save up for one big meal. Learn to balance a large meal with smaller meals and more exercise. Eat a light, low-fat breakfast with fruit on Thanksgiving. Take a long walk before or after the meal. Depending on the timing, you may not need another meal — take advantage of the calorie savings.
- Enjoy the company more than the food. Focus on enjoying the friends and family with whom you share this special meal. Eating a little less food, talking a little more and leaving the table feeling satisfied but not stuffed are good strategies.
You can get through Thanksgiving without gaining weight. Just be careful about the next couple of days with the leftovers. Send plates of leftovers home with guests and give the pies away!