The average American consumes over 2,000 calories on Thanksgiving. Here's how to save half those calories!

thanksgiving foodsThanksgiving and other seasonal holidays only come around once a year, which makes it hard to resist some of the mouth-watering foods associated with these festivities. While it's okay to indulge a bit on these special occasions, you may not want to go completely off the rails. After all, enjoying all of your favorites may add up to thousands of calories.

Here are some food swaps that allow you to enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday while saving you over 1,000 calories in just a single meal!

Alcoholic drinks: Sure you want to have a good time, but every glass of wine, beer or cocktail you consume clocks in at over 100 calories or more. Have a glass of water or seltzer between drinks and you'll save loads of calories. You'll also stay hydrated and will be less likely to experience a hangover the next day.

Approx. calorie savings (2 glasses of wine): 250

Turkey: Eat roasted turkey without the skin instead of fried turkey with the skin. You'll still get all the turkey goodness, but with less fat and calories:

Approx. calorie savings: 125

Veggies: Want to save your calories for something truly indulgent? Skip the green bean casserole and other creamy veggie dishes and have steamed veggies instead.

Approx. calorie savings: 150

Potatoes: Unless mashed potatoes are something you wait all year to enjoy, have a baked sweet potato with a sprinkle of cinnamon instead.

Approx. calorie savings: 175

Stuffing: This side dish can be loaded with carbs and fat. To lighten it up, swap in wild rice for half of the bread stuffing. You'll get some healthy carbs and will lower the calorie count.

Approx. calorie savings: 100

Pie: Perhaps the most quintessential Thanksgiving foods appear on the dessert table – the pies! Opt for pumpkin over pecan pie and you'll still enjoy the tastes of the season with fewer calories.

Approx. calorie savings: 250

Total calorie savings? 1,050

Here are a few other tips for eating more mindfully this holiday:

  • Don't arrive hungry. Some people think it's best to eat nothing or very little all day so they can save up for the big feast. But if you arrive famished, you're less likely to make good food decisions. Eat a filling breakfast or a high-protein snack before you arrive.
  • Sample the spread. Before you take a serving of anything that passes you by, survey what the offerings are and decide which indulgences you truly have to have. Skip foods you can eat anytime and take small portions of the ones you really want. Then savor them slowly.
  • Bring a dish. Offer to bring a dish or two and make it something healthy. This way you'll know just where to go when you need to fill your plate with something nourishing and less calorie-dense.
  • Sit strategically. Can't help yourself when the cheese, nuts or cake are nearby? Find a place to sit or stand that's not within arm's reach. That way, you'll have to make a conscious decision to get up if you want to indulge.

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Date Last Reviewed: September 14, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RDN, CLT

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