Gobble, gobble! Thanksgiving is around the corner, a holiday filled with family, friends, and a lot of food. The average American will consume more than 4,500 calories during the holiday—more than two full days worth of food! It may not be the easiest day if you’re trying to lose weight, but it’s possible to enjoy a healthy Thanksgiving meal that won’t do so much damage. You can enjoy all of the holiday’s classic comfort foods and stay within 550 calories.
Start with Soup (200 calories)
Traditional chips and dips are carb heavy and full of fat, but you can savor the flavor the holiday by serving butternut squash soup as an appetizer. This broth-based soup is packed with fiber, which will fill you up quickly and help you eat less during the meal. A small, half cup serving should do the trick and keep the hors d’oeuvres around 200 calories (skip the bread and sour cream). Get the full recipe.
Turkey (150 calories)
Skip the skin and stick to light meat, and you’re on the right track. Light meant is leaner than dark meat, and by ditching the skin, you’re avoiding unnecessary saturated fat. On serving of turkey, which is about the size of the palm of your hand, clocks in at about 150 calories.
Sweet Potatoes or Mashed Potatoes (57-100 calories)
A half cup of mashed potatoes is 100 calories, and a half cup of sweet potatoes is 57 calories. Of the two carbohydrate options, sweet potatoes win the health war, giving you more than your daily recommended dose of cancer-fighting vitamin A and hefty amounts of fiber and vitamin B. No need to add sugar. Just cube and roast them in your favorite spices and serve! But if you can’t imagine Thanksgiving without classic mashed potatoes, go for it! Lighten them up by skipping the butter and mixing with skim milk. Don’t peel the skin to get an extra boost of fiber!
Fresh veggies (50 calories)
Make seasonal veggies the star of your healthy Thanksgiving meal! Squash, carrots, turnips, broccoli, and cauliflower are a necessity. Toss in olive oil, garlic, and your favorite spices and bake, tossing occasionally, until cooked to your liking.
Cranberry sauce (86 calories)
Cranberry sauce can be a part of a healthy Thanksgiving meal, but it’s packed with sugar. A small, one-serving taste will satisfy your craving without putting you in a food coma later in the night.
Pumpkin pie minis (170 calories)
Your meal wouldn’t be complete without dessert, and it’s OK to splurge. Keep your portions under control by using a muffin pan to make individual pumpkin pies (just remember to limit yourself to one). Bonus points if you choose not to eat the crust.
Although the dessert puts you over the 550-calorie mark, don’t get too discouraged. One meal won’t make you gain weight. If you’re set on sticking to your 550-calorie weight loss plan—and that’s great –choose between appetizers or dessert. Food may be part of the holiday, but the holiday is not about food. It’s about spending quality time with your family and friends. Keep this at the forefront of your mind, and you won’t be as tempted to overeat. Happy Thanksgiving!