How to Have a Thinner Thanksgiving

Just because it's a holiday all about food doesn't mean you can't still eat healthy

Kick the calories this Thanksgiving with these healthy tips.

Does thinking of Thanksgiving dinner make your jeans feel a little tighter? It should. The average Thanksgiving dinner can pack a huge calorie punch, often weighing in at 3,000 calories and 200 grams of fat. But, don’t blame the bird. A traditional thanksgiving feast is full of nutritious foods that we tend to make as calorically dense as possible — we are notorious for pumping the sides full of butter, oil, cream, and sugar.

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Luckily, you don’t have to give up everything you love about Thanksgiving dinner to stay on track with your diet. To avoid over-indulgence that can be hard on the waistline, a few easy substitutions can make all the difference.

And remember, portions are key. This is what may take you from a 1,000 calorie meal to a 3,000 calorie overload. Here is step-by-step guide to dishing up your plate with as minimal damage as possible:

  1. Use the smallest plate you can find (think dessert plate).
  2. Load half your plate with veggies (preferably ones not slathered in fat and sugar). Great choices are steamed carrots, turnips, and Brussels sprouts. Stay full by selecting about 5 ounces turkey (about the size of the palm of your hand). This will likely cover about 1/4 of your plate.
  3. Finally, select those items you have been waiting for. Is it stuffing? Or maybe sweet potato? Enjoy about 1/2 cup of either (or 1/4 cup of both).
  4. Drizzle on your sauces. Yes, it is OK to use about 2 tablespoons of sauces max. Most folks can easily opt for 1 tablespoon gravy and 1 tablespoon cranberry sauce. This is not much however, it is just enough to give you the flavor you are longing for without masking the flavors of the food items it is topping.
  5. Finish off this great dinner with a very small slice of pumpkin pie topped with 1/4 cup low-calorie whipped topping.

One plateful is plenty. The leftovers tomorrow will taste even better and be worth the wait! Enjoy the holiday weekend and then get back to your regular eating routine ASAP in order to avoid the unwanted holiday weight gain.

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Andrea Mawson, BSc, RD, IOC Diploma Sport Nutrition is a nutritionist and private practice registered dietitian specializing in weight loss. She has created an innovative nutritional program that she has used on clients all across Canada to achieve and maintain their best weight, improved health and well-being. For more information log onto