Last year Americans consumed around 736 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving[i], which was likely served with several favorite holiday side dishes and courses. This belt busting MEAL can have up to 3,450 calories, which is astounding when you consider that the average amount of calories consumed PER DAY for males is 2,475 and for females is 1,833[ii].

Though your traditions and recipes may make some of your Thanksgiving foods non-negotiable—such as a family recipe for gravy, or maybe this year it is your turn to get one of the savory dark meat legs— perhaps you just didn’t realize how many calories are in some foods, or you never thought to consider other options. You never know, you just might end up loving sweet potato pie, but never considered having anything else but pumpkin pie.

Below is a table with the most popular Thanksgiving Day foods and some healthy options for you to consider. Who knows, maybe this year will be the beginning of some new Thanksgiving dinner traditions that have you feeling energized and invigorated instead of sleepy and uncomfortable.

Food Portion Size Calories        Healthy Option (same portion size) Healthy Option CALORIES Healthy Option Calorie Difference
Turkey, dark meat w/skin 4 oz. 249 Turkey, light meat no skin 189 60
Mashed Potatoes w/ sour cream and butter 1 cup 313 Mashed Potatoes w/ milk and butter 212 101
Stuffing (Bread) 1 cup 404 Stuffing (Cornbread) 358 46
Gravy, made w/meat drippings 1 cup 271 Gravy, made w/out fat 71 200
Green Bean Casserole 1 cup 276 Cooked green beans 44 232
Bread Rolls (white) Medium size (about 2.5” across) 147 Bread Rolls (100% whole wheat) 96 51
Cranberry Sauce 1 cup 418 Fresh Cranberries 51 367
Candied Yams 1 cup 293 Baked Yams 165 128
Apple Pie 1/8 of 9” pie 356 Sweet Potato Pie 265 91
Pumpkin Pie 1/8 of 9” pie 374 Sweet Potato Pie 265 109
Pecan Pie 1/8 of 9” pie 464 Pumpkin pie 374 90
Soda, cola 12 oz. 136 Diet Soda, cola or Water 0 136
Beer 12 oz. 155 Skip it 0 155
Wine 5 oz. 125 Again, skipping the alcohol is the healthiest option 0 125
Squash w/butter and brown Sugar 1 cup 154 Squash w/salt and sugar, no butter 121 33


If none of these options work for you, you could just make sure to keep your portions reasonable, but keep in mind that you are having more courses during this particular meal than you may be used to.

Some of you may have noticed that today’s article was not our normal Monday post of REAL STORIES, and was instead a TOP TIP.  We wanted to make sure you had this information before the holiday since TOP TIPS posts every Thursday. So look for another great TOP TIP on Thanksgiving day, and REAL STORIES about real people accomplishing their health and fitness goals will resume on its regularly scheduled day again next Monday.

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