How Many Calories Are on Your Thanksgiving Plate?

We break down the Thanksgiving plate so you know what you’re in for


Learn how to construct the best plate for Thanksgiving.

Recently, the Calorie Control Council estimated that the average American could consume as many as 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day.

"It’s important to not feel deprived on this holiday," clarifies nutritionist Deborah Enos, the popular "One Minute Wellness Coach." "Truly, this holiday is about friends, family, food, and football. If you’re not eating the foods on the table, you might feel a bit left out. So it's good to know what foods are calorie bombs and what foods are actually good choices."

But according to a survey from Basis Science, creators of the Basis fitness tracker, Americans aren't adequately accounting for the number of calories on their Thanksgiving plates. According to the survey, during their Thanksgiving dinner most Americans expect to consume just 1,780 calories and more than 75 percent of survey respondents expect to stay below 2,000 calories.

This could be due to the fact that seven out of 10 Americans do not plan to eat regular meals before Thanksgiving, according the survey. Most prefer to only eat small snacks before dinner or to fast completely, which can easily lead to overeating during the main event.

Click here to see the How Many Calories Are on Your Thanksgiving Plate (Slideshow)

Enos recommends, "Drink a cup of coffee or hot tea about 15 to 20 minutes before you sit down to your meal. The hot liquid will annihilate your appetite. You feel full, you eat less, and this allows you to indulge in a few goodies but not every goodie that comes your way."

"I think it’s OK to thoroughly enjoy this holiday but don’t binge," Enos continues. "It’s hard to recover from a binge. However, just enjoying the holiday means you get a few bites of all of your favorites without passing out on the couch in a food coma."

But you have to know exactly what the "best scenario" or even the "worst scenario" plates look like to make sure you are staying within your dietary limits. We were curious as to exactly what would be on these plates, so we broke the average American Thanksgiving dinner down, from the drinks to the pads of butter on your biscuit, to see where we typically go wrong. In our accompanying slideshow, you can find your entire dinner deconstructed so you can make the best of your Thanksgiving caloric intake.

Now about those calorie totals. Based on our findings we were able to calculate the best- and worst-case calorie counts of a Thanksgiving dinner without making special exceptions and participating in every facet of the meal:

The Worst-Case Scenario: 3,242 CALORIES

Mashed Potatoes (with Whole Milk and Butter): 237 calories per 1 cup Green Bean Casserole: 230 calories per 1 cup Candied Yams: 206 calories per 1 cup Cranberry Sauce Canned: 420 calories per 1 cup Stuffing: 350 calories per 1 cup Biscuit: 150 calories per biscuit with 36 calories per 1 pat of butter Turkey (3.5 ounces turkeyDark meat with skin: 232 calories Turkey Gravy: 100 calories per 1 cup Brussels Sprouts38 calories per 1 cup Corn132 calories per ear; with butter36 Calories per 1 pat of butter Spinach41 calories per 1 cup Beer (Regular): Average 150 calories per bottle Generic Old Fashioned Cocktail: 155 calories per glass Reds (Burgundy): 127 calories per glass Pecan Pie: 503 calories per 1 slice (1/8 divided pie) Vanilla Ice Cream Scoop: 125 calories per 1/2 cup Whipped Cream:15 calories per 2 tablespoons

The Best-Case Scenario: 2,092 CALORIES


Champagne: 78 calories per glass Mashed Potatoes (with Whole Milk and Butter): 237 calories per 1 cup Cranberry SauceFresh408 calories per 1 cup Candied Yams: 206 calories per 1 cupStuffing: 350 calories per 1 cup Biscuit: 150 calories per biscuit TurkeyServing Size3.5 ounces turkey Breast without skin: 161 calories Turkey Gravy: 100 calories per 1 cup Pumpkin Pie: 323 calories per 1 slice (1/8 divided pie)Spinach: 41 calories per 1 cup Brussels Sprouts: 38 calories per 1 cup

To see more of the caloric breakdown, click through our slideshow!

For more turkey talk, visit The Daily Meal’s Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving.

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