Fitness Nutrition Forums

20 Ways to Cut Thanksgiving Calories

Fitday Editor

The holidays are coming and they're typically full of rich and highly caloric foods that aren't necessarily good for our health or our waist lines. The average American gains approximately one to two pounds during the holidays. These pounds typically aren't shed and can add up over the years.

This holiday season, stop the cycle.

By making just a few minor adjustments, you can save yourself hundreds of calories. Use some of the tips below to reduce calories and fat while preserving the flavor of your meals.


1. Baked Goods
Oils and butter in these recipes can be substituted with apple sauce, prune puree, or bananas.

2. Chocolate
Use fewer chocolate chips than a recipe calls for or substitute with cocoa powder.

3. Whole Milk, Whipping Cream
Lower fat milk or imitation whipped cream will reduce your calories greatly.

4. Butter
Use healthier fats like light cooking spray, canola oil, whipped butter, olive oil, peanut oil, or a trans-fat-free margarine.

5. Salad Dressing
Salads may seem super healthy, but just a tablespoon of some salad dressings can set you back 100 calories. Instead use reduced-calorie salad dressing, lemon juice, reduced-fat cottage cheese, or herb-flavored or wine vinegar.

6. Cheese
Instead of the usual cheese, try reduced fat cheese. I bet neither you nor your family will be able to tell the difference.

7. Sour Cream, Mayonnaise
Use a plain fat free Greek yogurt--it has the same texture and similar flavor to both sour cream and mayonnaise.

8. Gravy
Put your gravy into the refrigerator before serving. Once it gets cold the fat will collect at the top, skim it off, defrost, and serve.


9. What to Serve
Serve low calorie foods like Canadian bacon, roast beef, raw vegetables, light cheese, dip made with fat free yogurt, and/or homemade salsa.

10. Lean Your Meats
Make your meats lean by removing the skin and fat before eating.

11. A Full Plate
Fill up half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables like salad, green beans, spinach, or broccoli.

12. Portion Control
If you have trouble with portion control, drink two large glasses of water right before you start your meal and continue to take sips between bites.



13. Low-Calorie Sweets
Make a lower-calorie dessert like Angel food cake topped with light whip cream and fruit.

14. Fruits

Poached or baked fruits with a light whipped topping also make great desserts.

15. Cakes and Pies
Gingerbread is a lower calorie alternative to the usual cakes and pies.


16. Add Water
Make spritzers with sparkling water or club soda and add some fruit for flavor.

17. Low Calorie Options
Choose light beer, wine, or drinks made with no calorie mixers.

18. Alternate
Alternate between alcoholic drink and water to stay hydrated and keep calories lower.

19. Infusion
Try an infused liquor to reduce alcohol intake and use of mixers.


20. Walk it Off
Make activity a habit after your meals--whether it be a walk or an interactive game, get the whole family involved so that you can all burn a few extra calories and lead a longer, healthier life together.

Mandy Seay is a bilingual registered and licensed dietitian who holds both a bachelor's degree in nutrition and in journalism. After gaining 30 pounds while living abroad, Mandy worked to lose the weight and regain her health. It was here that she discovered her passion for nutrition and went on to pursue a career as a dietitian. Mandy currently works as a nutrition consultant and freelance writer in Austin, Texas, where she specializes in diabetes, weight management and general and preventive nutrition. She recently published her first book, Your Best Health, a personalized program to losing weight and gaining a healthy lifestyle. Please visit Mandy's website at

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