The Calorie Control Council says that the average American may eat up to 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat during Thanksgiving. While that claim may be dubious, Thanksgiving is generally a holiday in which many feel like they eat far too much. Here are some foods to avoid during the feast.
Pigs in a blanket are small and cute, but at 66 calories apiece, their impact adds up quickly. Similarly, chips and dip can be dangerous, because many people eat them mindlessly before realizing that they are packing away tons of hydrogenated oils and fats. Instead, try half a cup of steamed or boiled shrimp, which contain just 100 calories and no fat, as long as you go easy on the cocktail sauce. If you must hear a crunch as you wait for the main course, make your way to the vegetable platter, which contains a load of nutrients for little pain.
Egg nog contains as many calories as three glasses of wine, with 343 calories. It also contains 12 grams of fat and 22 grams of sugar. A glass of red wine will skip the calories, fat, and sugar, and will provide an array of health benefits.
Turkey is the staple of many Thanksgiving dinners, so it cannot be avoided - but it does not really need to be. If you are cooking, try basting the turkey with white wine or chicken broth to avoid the saturated fats from butter. The white breast meat is also naturally low in fat, as long as you stay away from the skins. Staying away from the skin goes double for the dark meat, which contains more fats and calories.
Bread stuffing has 178 calories per cup alone. Adding sausage, like many recipes call for, increases that number astronomically. Try substituting a leaner meat, like chicken sausage, and using whole-wheat bread. Using chicken broth instead of butter also saves 50 calories a serving. Adding more vegetables can help as well, like celery, carrots, and mushrooms. At worst, you can simply skip stuffing.
Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but are often baked and drenched in butter and sugar, which kills off the nutritional value. Mashed potatoes are a better bet; they have half the calories of fat. You may also want to try to substitute whole milk for 2 percent or skim, and substitute butter for a low-calorie substitute. Baked potatoes are also a good option.
For those who are carb-conscious, you may want to be adventurous and try a mashed cauliflower recipe.
Go easy on the gravy; a quarter cup contains 25 to 60 calories. Cranberry sauce, a favorite in some families, contains 110 calories and 21 grams of sugar in a quarter cup of the gelatinous canned variety. Though making your own from frozen cranberries may take up more time, it does not take a long time and is fairly easy to make.
For once, tradition wins out here. Pumpkin pie is a healthier option than pecan pie, apple pie, or a pie with a top crust. However, even pumpkin pie contains 250 to 350 calories, so moderation is key!
If nothing else, though, experts say not to fret about your diet on Thanksgiving Day. In fact, thinking about your diet is a recipe for disaster, as the avoidance of dessert, for example, leads many people to overindulge during the main course. Psychologist Charlotte Markey said to Rutgers Today that people should simply view food as good and healthful, rather than as bad.
She says, "Just say, this tastes good and it's something that brings me pleasure and I'm going to savor it and enjoy it. For some people, this is a radical idea. A lot of us don't know how to do that because there are so many mixed messages about food being bad. But food isn't like a drug that when it's harmful, you can avoid it entirely. We need it to live. Food is a source of nutrition and we have to deal with it every day."