Healthy Thanksgiving food

How to eat healthy on Thanksgiving

If you think of Thanksgiving dinner as a bit of a calorie-bomb, you're not wrong. The average Thanksgiving meal is around 2,800 calories. Yikes! And while there's nothing wrong with having an occasional indulgence, you might be in the market for some healthier, lower-calorie options this Thanksgiving. Here are the healthiest traditional foods you can enjoy on Turkey Day:

1. Turkey

Three ounces of white meat only contain 115 calories. Plus, it's a great source of protein—one serving has 26 grams. It's also packed with iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Make sure to eat the white meat without the skin on and don't overdo it with the gravy.

2. Kale salad

Always start your Thanksgiving meal with a salad. It'll help you feel more satisfied because of all the fiber and protein without costing you a ton of calories. One serving of kale salad only has 150 calories and six grams of fat with one tablespoon of dressing.

3. Roasted green beans

Green beans are a low-calorie vegetable that are rich in fiber and contain an array of nutrients, such as vitamins A and C. Each cup only has 65 calories and 5 grams of fat. Try to avoid green bean casseroles, which are loaded with calories and fat.

4. Mashed potatoes

When made with the right ingredients, mashed potatoes can be a healthy choice. If they're made with butter and whole milk, one serving of mashed potatoes contains about 237 calories and 9 grams of fat. But, if you substitute non-fat milk and cauliflower for half of the potatoes, you'll lose 100 calories and 8 grams of fat.

5. Roasted Brussels sprouts

A one-half cup serving of Brussels sprouts has 136 calories and 7 grams of fat. They're filling, nutritious, and tasty. Plus, this cruciferous vegetable is packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as dietary fiber and potassium.

6. Sweet potatoes

One medium sweet potato has only 112 calories. A powerhouse vegetable, sweet potatoes are high in vitamins A and C, and they also contain phytochemicals like beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

7. Wild rice

Often used in stuffing, wild rice contains 160 calories per cup. It's chewy and nutty, and wild rice has fewer carbs and more protein than brown rice.

8. Roasted carrots

One cup of roasted carrots only has around 60 calories. Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A. But when they're cooked, carrots' levels of beta carotene and phenolic acids are actually boosted.

9. Corn on the cob

Corn has a ton of health benefits. Not only is it high in fiber, but corn also contains B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese. If you choose to boil or grill corn, it's relatively low in calories as well. One ear of corn only has around 155 calories.

10. Baked acorn squash

Acorn squash is rich in nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. It's also high in fiber and contains carotenoid antioxidants. One cup of cooked acorn squash only has around 115 calories.

What about Thanksgiving desserts?

When it comes to choosing desserts, you should stick with either pumpkin pie or apple crisp. One serving of pumpkin pie contains a reasonable 323 calories and 13 grams of fat, whereas one serving of apple crisp only has 228 calories and 5 grams of fat per half-cup serving. One Thanksgiving classic you may want to skip? Pecan pie, which has a whopping 500 calories and 27 grams of fat per slice.

  1. "The 7 Healthiest Foods on Your Thanksgiving Menu," Eating Well, n.d.
  2. "The Healthiest (and Least Healthy) Thanksgiving Foods," Glamour, November 23, 2016.

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