Turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, OH MY! According to the Calorie Control Council, on average we consume 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving day alone and 1,500 of those calories come just from nibbling throughout the day. To put those calories into perspective, a 150-pound person would have to run approximately 29 miles to burn 2,800 calories. Which means we should probably plan another relay up to the White House after we’re finished scarfing down our Thanksgiving feasts.
In the latest Really Truly Fit Podcast, Jim brought me on the show and we discussed our plans for the upcoming holiday. The past few years we’ve actually been out of town and have gone out for Thanksgiving dinner, so this is our first year that we’ll be having it at my parents and his parents will also be joining.
When we first discussed our plans, of course the first thing he asked about was the menu. My mother LOVES to cook for Thanksgiving but her first priority has never been to make it healthy, it’s usually to make it tasty. But this year she was truly up for the challenge and thought it would be fun to transition some of our typical unhealthy recipes for more Jim White Approved options that would leave everyone feeling a little bit better about their food choices.
We narrowed down the menu and came up with some healthier options:
TURKEY – per 3 ounces, opting for the “white” turkey breast over the “dark” meat will save you 50 calories and 4 grams of fat: 115 calories and 7 grams of fat versus 160 calories and 11 grams of fat, respectively.
- Skinless turkey breast – removing the skin removes unwanted fat calories
- White meat – eat white meat for an extra lean bonus
- 2-3 portions max – your fist is roughly 1 portion. By eating 2-3 portions of lean protein you will be full to stuff yourself with unhealthy foods
- Dark meat – with a little added fat, it doesn’t make a huge difference but does still count!
- Butter and gravy – turkey itself isn’t usually the culprit, but the sauces that people put on it.
Gravy – Surprise! Gravy is actually the skinnier selection in this case. Per ¼ cup, gravy delivers about 30 calories and 1.5 g fat, versus the cranberries, with 110 calories per ¼ cup. Why so high? Lots of added sugars.
- Eat gravy made with fat-less turkey drippings
- Pour gravy in a glass container and let it sit for a few minutes, so it will be easier to remove the top fatty layer
- Canned gravy – Usually high in sodium and fat content
- Raw – veggies with no added sauce are always a healthy choice
- Dip – small portions of dip or hummus can make all the difference in calories
- If you’re cooking your veggies, be sure to use olive oil
- Buttered veggies – beware cooked veggies that are smothered in butter! One teaspoon of butter which is the size of a thimble is 50 calories..and no one puts just a teaspoon on the veggies!
Breads & Stuffing
- Rolls – Unfortunately most rolls contain refined grains and are very detrimental to your diet. Foregoing these altogether is the wisest choice. Opt for whole wheat rolls when available
- Stuffing – Try to only take small portions to save yourself from the high calories but stop carb cravings! Get it made with whole grain, brown rice, quinoa and low butter content
- Refined, white bread rolls. Especially with butter
- Stuffing made with mostly bread and no added veggies, or smothered in butter
- Sweet potatoes – A lower GI index food, this potato version is the healthier choice.
- Yams – another heart healthy food when not smothered with butter, sauces, or candied.
- White potatoes – the slightly unhealthier cousin to sweet potatoes. These spike your insulin higher and help you retain fat. It’s also a vehicle for butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon
- Scalloped potatoes – often prepared with a ton of sodium, butter, and other creams. It’s best just to say no.
- Candied yams or sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, brown sugar, or OJ – an impostor candy that is masking itself as a vegetable. Don’t be fooled!
- Pumpkin pie – While not the healthiest of foods, when it comes to desserts, pumpkin pie has the lowest calories at only 335 a slice! Also, pumpkin is loaded up with beta-carotene, an antioxidant that improves skin tone and bolsters your immune system
- Other pies – Such as apple or pecan which will set you back at least 400-500 calories a slice!
- Toppings – Avoid the whip cream or other toppings
And if all else fails? Remember these simple tips:
- Budget your calories for the day. Have a healthy and filling breakfast and load up on veggies before you indulge of the tasty foods.
- Exercise! Sign-up for the turkey trot, get your family out for a walk – whatever it is, just get moving.
- Don’t eat any leftovers.
- Chalk it up as indulgence day…it only comes around once per year. But make sure it’s just Thanksgiving day and not Thanksgiving week.
Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!