When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, one day of extravagant feasting isn't going to blow your diet to smithereens, but it's still a good idea to be generally mindful of how much you're consuming. According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American will consume between 3,500 to 4,500 Thanksgiving calories, which is more than what's normally recommended for an entire day's worth of eating! So now that we know the total damage, which specific foods are the main culprits? Here's a breakdown of the most common Thanksgiving foods, along with their estimated calorie and fat content.
- Turkey (Serving Size: 4 slices) - 320 calories; 12 grams of fat
- Bread Stuffing (Serving Size: 1 cup) - 350 calories; 17 grams of fat
- Cranberry Sauce (Serving Size: 1 slice, about 1/2" thick) - 86 calories; 0.1 grams of fat
- Mashed Potatoes (Serving Size: 1 cup) - 240 calories; 9 grams of fat
- Gravy (Serving Size: 1/2 cup) - 100 calories; 8 grams of fat
- Green Bean Casserole (Serving Size: 1 cup) - 350 calories; 17 grams of fat
- Biscuits (Serving Size: 2 biscuits) - 340 calories, 12 grams of fat
- Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallow Topping (Serving Size: 1 cup) - 420 calories; 18 grams of fat
- Cornbread (Serving Size: 1 piece) - 188 calories; 5 grams of fat
- Pumpkin Pie (Serving Size: 1 slice) - 320 calories, 14.5 grams of fat
- Pecan Pie (Serving Size: 1 slice) - 456 calories, 21 grams of fat
- Lemon Pound Cake (Serving Size: 1 piece) - 227 calories, 9 grams of fat
How to Maintain Your Dieting Sanity Through Thanksgiving
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to minimize the impact of your Thanksgiving food fest without having to resort starving yourself for the rest of the week or exercising like crazy. Here are some tips to keep in mind to help you maintain your dieting sanity during the Thanksgiving holiday:
Eat a small breakfast on the big day. That's right...contrary to popular opinion, it's much better to start the day off with a small but nutrient-rich breakfast (e.g., an egg with a slice of whole-grain toast, a bowl of whole-grain cereal, etc.) than to skip your early morning meal in order to save room for the big feast. Think about it: If you've had a little something to eat in the morning, you won't be starving by the time you get to Thanksgiving dinner. This will help you avoid making poor eating choices due to being ravenously hungry.
Focus on portion control. You can have practically anything you want--without feeling guilty about it--if you just eat smaller amounts of it. If you commit to practicing this one simple principle, you might be surprised to discover that many times you really don't want to eat gargantuan portions of any one thing; a handful of bites is often enough for you to enjoy the flavor and texture of each dish without feeling like you have to go all in with huge portions. Also, if at all possible, skip going for seconds.
While no one is advocating a four-hour jog, it's always a good idea to incorporate some level of exercise to help kick-start your metabolism again after a Thanksgiving meal. Take a 30-minute (not 30-mile) walk and keep it up at least three to five times a week; not only will this burn calories, but it will help you decrease your stress levels (which tend to rise during the holidays) and improve your overall sense of well-being.
Keep in mind that the Thanksgiving holiday is a total package of good food plus time well spent with family and friends. Try to maintain this balanced perspective, so that food won't become the be-all and end-all of your Thanksgiving experience. Keep the above tips in mind as well, and you'll be able to celebrate a fun-filled and guilt-free Thanksgiving.