How Not To Gain Weight Over Thanksgiving

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Happy Thanksgiving collegiettes! Enjoy time at home with your family, friends, and the food. As Thanksgiving is a holiday almost completely centered around a meal, there are a few things to consider. When it’s all about the food, how do you walk the line between enjoyment and over-indulgence?
We fully support a serving of Grandma’s super rich gravy, or a slice of your Dad’s famous pumpkin pie. With that said, wolfing down an entire pie by yourself or eating so much turkey you can’t even walk to the couch… we wouldn’t stand by. There’s no need to go extreme (in either direction!) on this wonderful holiday, so we’ve talked to James Madison University professor and registered dietitian Dr. Melissa Rittenhouse RD, CSSD to learn what’s good, what’s fowl (gobble gobble!), and how you can improve each classic Turkey Day dish.
What you need to know:
“Many traditional Thanksgiving foods can be modified to have less calories, fat and sodium by substituting ingredients and/or cooking methods. However, the traditional foods can also be enjoyed the old fashioned way as long as portion sizes are controlled and you limit yourself to one plate of food rather than multiples.”- Dr. Rittenhouse, RD, CSSD
Here’s a quick rundown of our T-Day staples so we know where things stand to start with:

Serving: 4 oz dark meat with skin
Calories: 206 cal, 8 g fat, 2.4 g saturated fat, 132 mg cholesterol
4 oz white meat, no skin: 153 kcal, .8 g fat, .3 g saturated fat, 94 mg chol

dinner turkey thanksgiving dinner food feast

Serving: 1 oz or ½ C
Calories: StoveTop Mix: 160 kcal, 1 g fat
Homemade approximately 250 kcal

Sweet potatoes
Serving: 5 oz
Calories: 390 kcal, 12 g fat, 7 g saturated fat

sweet potatoes food side dish thanksgiving dinner

Mashed potatoes and gravy
Serving: ½ C
Calories: 120 kcal, 4.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat

Cranberry sauce
Serving: ½ inch thick slice
Calories: 86 kcal, less than 1 g fat

 canned cranberry sauce thanksgiving dinner turkey toppings

Green bean casserole:
Serving: ½ C
Calories: 130 kcal, 7 g fat, 3.5 g fat

Pumpkin pie
Serving: 1 piece of 9-inch pie (cut into 8ths)
Calories: 316 calories, 14.5 g fat, 5g saturated fat

pumpkin pie thanksgiving dinner dessert fall dessert 

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About The Author

Carlene Helble is a senior dietetics major and family studies minor at James Madison University. She is the '10-'11 President of JMU's student dietetics association and the school's student council liaison to the American Dietetics Association. Carlene is also the weekend food blogger for All Access Internships and writes for Balanced Health and Nutrition, the Elite Nutrition blog. Originally from Loudoun County, Virginia, she has a passion for cooking (especially French Macarons), entertaining, pilates, and enjoying the beautiful outdoors. Classic fashions are her favorite and she never goes anywhere without a monogram. After graduation Carlene hopes to obtain a spot in a dietetic internship to learn more about clinical dietetics, pediatrics, and continue writing about food.