Easy Ways To Cut 500 Calories From Your Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Day is an opportunity to spend time with friends and family, and enjoy a delicious, decadent meal.  However, most Americans overdo their Thanksgiving feast, eating more than 4,000 calories! Here are simple ways to cut calories from your dinner, while still enjoying the holiday.

1) Skip the skin.

While turkey meat is a lean source of protein, turkey skin contains lots of calories and saturated fat.  In fact, 3.5 ounces of turkey skin contains a whopping 482 calories and 44 grams of fat!  By removing the skin from your Thanksgiving turkey before you eat it, you can save a significant number of calories.

2) Stick to simple sides.

There are lots of delicious side dishes that accompany the Thanksgiving turkey.  Which sides you fill your plate with can make a dramatic difference in the number of calories you consume during the meal.  To save calories, avoid dishes with cream sauce (like green bean casserole and creamed corn) and opt for roasted or steamed vegetables instead.

3) Curb your carb enthusiasm.

Another reason to fill your plate with lean turkey and vegetables is so you eat smaller portions of high-carb dishes that add to your calorie count.  For instance, mashed potatoes, stuffing and dinner rolls contain lots of simple carbohydrates, which add to your Thanksgiving calories but offer little nutritional value.  By eating smaller portions of high-carb foods, you’ll lower your calorie intake while still getting a taste of your favorite Thanksgiving sides.

4) Sip on zero-calorie drinks.

Thanksgiving dinner is often accompanied by traditional fall drinks, like red wine, cranberry juice and apple cider.  But drinking multiple glasses of these beverages can add up! For instance, a glass of wine has 125 calories. A cup of cranberry juice has 120.  And a cup of apple cider contains 80 calories. Switching to zero calorie drinks, like sparkling water or tea, can significantly decrease the calories you consume on Thanksgiving Day.

5)   Go sparingly on the sweets.

While dessert is one of the highlights of Thanksgiving, it often contains more calories than any other part of the meal.  For example, a piece of pecan pie has 500 calories, 24 grams of fat and 64 grams of carbohydrates. Topping a slice of pie with half a cup of vanilla ice cream can add 250 more calories!  When it comes to dessert, consider choosing a smaller slice of pie, say no to seconds, and skip the a la mode ice cream to save a significant number of calories (while still indulging your sweet tooth)!


At Golden Gate Urgent Care, we want you to be as happy and healthy as possible so you can enjoy the holidays!  You can make an appointment online or simply walk in to any of our six Bay Area locations, seven days a week, to get the care you need.

Sarah Thebarge MMSc, PA-C Sarah Thebarge earned her physician assistant degree at Yale School of Medicine, and then studied journalism at Columbia School of Journalism. She has been a physician assistant and a freelance journalist since 2004. In addition to caring for patients at Golden Gate Urgent Care, Sarah frequently volunteers her medical skills in the developing world. Her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, USA Today and National Geographic, and her blog was featured on MSNBC.com. She is the author of the memoir The Invisible Girls and the upcoming book WELL: Healing our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa. She currently lives in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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