Thanksgiving Dinner: 5 Easy Ways to Save Calories


Good old Turkey Day is upon us. What started as a holiday to give thanks for the harvest has now turned into a day where most Americans eat until their pants burst and sit around watching football afterwards. (Or you’re doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen. In my family this was determined by your sex, but not sure about other families. Wink wink.)

So, here are a few tips to slash calories on Thanksgiving and to not let all of those extras turn into fat on our bodies.

Tip 1: Know your math

I’m usually not a fan of calorie counting per say, but on a day like this with so many temptations it is a helpful tool to use. An excess of 3500 calories will add one pound of fat to your body if it is not used for energy. The amount of calories in a typical Thanksgiving meal is close to a whole day’s worth of calories or more depending on your metabolic rate.

Here is a quick guide to a typical Thanksgiving meal:

2 glasses of sweetened tea, wine, or cider: 300 calories
1 oz. of cheese: 100 calories
6 oz. white or dark turkey: 340 calories
1/3 cup of gravy: 100 calories
1/6 can of cranberry sauce: 100 calories
1/2 cup of stuffing: 180 calories
1/2 cup mashed potatoes: 150 calories
1/2 cup sauteed green beans: 50 calories
1 dinner roll w/ 1 pat of butter: 155 calories
1 cup of eggnog: 400 calories
1 piece of apple pie (1/8 of 9″ pie): 410 calories

Total Thanksgiving dinner: 2185 calories

Tip 2: The morning burn

Before you start cooking (or whatever you do), schedule time to get to the gym on Thursday morning. If you can’t get to a gym, go for a walk/jog/run outside or do an exercise video. No excuses. Wake up 40 minutes earlier if you have to to squeeze it in. This will fire up your metabolism for the rest of the day and you will burn more calories.

Tip 3: Plan your drinks wisely

We all know by now that soda is just empty calories and loaded with sugar, so skip it and drink water instead. Egg nog alternatives like those made from soy (Silk nog), are delicious and less than half of the calories. If you drink juice or sweetened teas, dilute them with water and slash your calories in half. If you are drinking alcoholic beverages, have a limit. Also, if you use spirits don’t use mixers that have sugar like fruit juices and soda. Use club soda or tonic and a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime to save on calories.

Tip 4: Put a rainbow on your plate

Include green vegetables like broccoli and salad, orange sweet potatoes, red tomatoes, yellow squash, and purple eggplant and before you know it there won’t be too much room left for white foods like bread, pasta, white rice, and white potatoes. These white foods have higher glycemic indexes and will spike your sugar faster setting you up for weight gain. Eating from the rainbow will ensure that you get a wide array of antioxidants, minerals, and fiber.

Tip 5: Make your own desserts

Store bought desserts are loaded with gross trans fats and high fructose syrup. Follow a recipe, but cut the amount of sugar you use or better yet, substitute maple syrup or agave nectar for sugar in recipes. You never need as much as the recipes call for. Make an apple pie without the bottom crust or make a pumpkin pie, which has half of the calories than an apple pie.

Jennifer Cassetta’s, founder of Health and the City, mission is to help city dwellers partake in a healthy lifestyle through martial arts training, fitness, and holistic nutrition programs.

Cassetta is a verified black belt and instructor of HapKiDo, a Korean martial art that translates to ‘The Way of Harmonizing Life Force Energy,’ a personal trainer and a certified nutritionist with a well-rounded view on holistic health and wellness. The programs she creates strongly encourages development of the mind, body and spirit with coaching that incorporates the best of both Eastern and Western techniques. View her website here.