Not So Thankful: Holiday Pounds

Sitting down at the table with family and friends, your aim is to enjoy your day not to over think what you eat. To help you lovely ladies mindfully munch this Thursday, here are a few suggestions on what to choose while loading your plate. While I don’t enjoy stating actual calorie counts, I’ve provided them below (in the drinks section only) as a general guideline. Why I don’t provide calorie counts: they’re simply not accurate. Yes, they may be accurate for the sample recipe, but most readers prepare a recipe they know and love, expecting it to equate to the same nutritional values and it doesn’t. Instead of misleading all of you, I would rather provide general reasons for choosing THIS vs. THAT so you understand the healthier option. Enjoy!


Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Martini (135 calories)                                         ∞  Irish Coffee (200 calories)
  • ∞  Vodka & Soda (100 calories)                             ∞  Mulled Wine (300 calories)

Why: Opting for the classic martini or a simple vodka + soda will save you on calories and from a stealthy sugar source. Just make sure to choose the original over the fruitier martini varieties—those are loaded with syrups and sugary flavor enhancers. // As for the vodka and soda, you can’t go wrong with a zero calorie soda; juice or tonic will add unnecessary sugars. // Irish coffee is purely decadent with its heavy cream and whipped cream topping. Unless you’re looking to drink your dessert before even sitting down to your meal, be my guest. Otherwise, opt for coffee spiked with a little whiskey. // While the base of mulled wine is indeed antioxidant-rich red wine, the drink itself is only reminiscent of the taste. It’s cut with sugar, brandy, and choice fruit juices, adding calories you don’t even realize are there.

The Feast

Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  4 oz White meat                                                  ∞  4 oz Dark meat

Why: Not only is dark meat just about twice as fatty as white meat, but your white meat selection also has significantly less cholesterol (only 69mg!).

Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Mashed potatoes w/                                          ∞  Candied sweet potatoes w/
  • Turkey gravy (1/2 cup)                                            Marshmallow topping (1/2 cup)

Why: Normally sweet potatoes would win the battle over normal spuds any day, nutritionally, but sweet potatoes lose their nutritional edge once they’re covered in marshmallows and candied.

Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Homemade Cranberry Sauce                             ∞  Canned Jelly Cranberry Sauce

Why: Anything homemade is generally better because you can control what goes into it! According to Self, canned sweetened cranberry sauce is mostly comprised of carbs in the form of sugar. This will leave you feeling hungry and lead to raised sugar levels that will only add to your dreaded food coma.

Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Dinner roll w/ butter                                           ∞  Cornbread w/ butter

Why: Cornbread is sweeter, saltier, and fatter than a regular roll. A regular dinner roll with a smear of butter will leave you with a bit less of a spike in blood sugar, helping you maintain a steady blood sugar level.


Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Pumpkin pie (1 medium slice)                                 ∞  Pecan pie (1 medium slice)

Why: Yes, pecans are healthy, but the extra load of corn syrup surpasses any health benefits that this pie may have once had. Your best bet will almost always be to choose pumpkin pie because it ranks among one of the lower-calorie slices of heaven.


General tips for Turkey Day:

1. Eat a light breakfast: While you may think it’s a smart idea to just “save up” your calories for the big feast, eating a small meal will keep your cravings in check and prevent you from over eating.

2. If you’re the head chef for the day, or just a contributing attendee, make your dishes less caloric by swapping out butter for vegetable oil or olive oil. Also consider:

  • ∞  Reducing the amount of sugar in recipes
  • ∞  Using low-sodium + low-cal broth
  • ∞  Subbing in yogurt when recipes call for sour cream

3. Portion Control: This is a day when you typically want to try all of the dishes. Not once, but again and again. That reason alone should tell you that you should limit your first round to 1 spoonful of each. If you’re still wanting more of Grandma’s stuffing, this leaves you with room in your tummy for seconds instead of the usual secretive unbuttoning of your pants under the table. Also, think of the potential leftovers! That alone is a great incentive to limit your portions.

4. Count your Drinks: Don’t forget that drinks are liquid calories. Mind your sips to prevent alcohol AND tryptophan hangovers.

5. Don’t over think it! Thanksgiving is not the time to be nervously counting calories! Instead, mingle and enjoy your time with the ones you love. Not only will you be able to enjoy the day more, but you’ll feel less stressed! And what is better than that?


Source 1,2,3, Photo via

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