Skip to content

Navigating Your Thanksgiving Dinner

November 21, 2011

When people think of Thanksgiving they typically think of a massive dinner containing all sorts of rich and delicious foods.  What they don’t think about, are all the calories they are consuming.  The average Thanksgiving dinner contains over 2,000 calories!  That’s a full days worth of calories being squeezed into one meal!

Let’s be honest, many people use Thanksgiving as an excuse to splurge a little.  It is the perfect time to dig into your traditional favorites; however, if you have been watching your waistline, why sabotage all of your hard work for this one meal?

Here are some tips for you to enjoy your favorite treats in a guilt-free feast.

Eat breakfast (and lunch if the holiday feast is later)!

Don’t arrive at Thanksgiving dinner hungry.  Many people think it makes sense to save up your calories and appetite for the big meal, but this is not the case.  In reality, we actually eat faster and eat more than we need to when we are hungry.  Eating a small high protein and high fiber breakfast, such as scrambled eggs on whole wheat toast or whole grain cereal with low-fat milk in the morning helps to take the edge off your appetite and will keep you from overeating at the Thanksgiving meal.  If your feast is scheduled for dinner hour, be sure to eat lunch, such as a tuna sandwich with fruit.   

Moderate your portions.

Before you pile food onto your plate, scope out the table and decide which foods you absolutely have to taste.  The key word is taste!  Select small portions and choose foods that only come around once a year.  Why waste your calories on something you can have all year long?  Try filling half of your plate with vegetables, and the remaining half of your plate should be split between lean white meat turkey (leave off the skin) and your starchy sides. Eat smaller sized portions of high fat items.  If some of your favorites like mashed potatoes or string bean casserole are made with large amounts of butter and cream, help yourself to a small amount. Take just enough to satisfy your craving.  

Eat slowly, enjoy the flavors of your favorite foods and most importantly STOP when you are FULL!

Resist temptations to go back for seconds.

If you HAVE to go back for seconds, go for the vegetables and maybe another ounce or two of lean, white turkey meat.  After all, limiting yourself to one plate will leave more food for leftovers the next day, which we all look forward to.


Opt for skinless white turkey meat.

Choosing skinless, all white turkey meat will save you some fat, cholesterol and calories that you can eat elsewhere.


Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water!

People often confuse thirst with hunger.  Drinking water will help keep your stomach full and will keep you from feeling hungry.  Drinking alcohol and coffee will dehydrate you, so go easy on the wine at dinner.


We all enjoy Thanksgiving for the delicious foods it has to offer.  Remember, controlling what and how much you eat does not mean you have to deprive yourself of the foods you love. Follow these guilt-free tips and you will leave the table feeling both thankful  and satisfied!



2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2011 4:01 pm

    I believe dark meat has just a few more calories and without the skin should not be a big problem. If one (such as myself) totally prefers dark meat, I think it is better to eat that and
    feel safisfied than forcing white meat and not feeling satisfied.

    • Bonnie R. Giller, MS, RD, CDN, CDE permalink*
      November 22, 2011 5:11 pm

      Never force yourself to eat what you don’t like. If you prefer dark turkey meat, go ahead and enjoy, without the skin, and keep your portions moderate.
      Happy Thanksgiving!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: