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Thanksgiving simultaneously inspires fear and excitement in those of us who are working on our diets. It’s a holiday centered totally around eating the best of what the final fall harvest has to offer. Some of the foods on the Thanksgiving table are ones we only eat once a year and look forward to. However, according to the Caloric Control Council, the average American consumes 4500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving. While you might be more measured in your eating habits, it definitely gives you a sense of the amount of dietary damage that can be done on this one day in the year. For some Thanksgiving can be a catalyst to an entire holiday season of eating gone wrong….6 weeks of overeating, sweets and fatty foods, leaving us a few pounds heavier come the first of the year.
There are some very healthy foods on the Thanksgiving menu, but others become problematic due to loads of added sugars and fats. With a little advance knowledge and pre-planning you can eat a healthy Thanksgiving dinner without even having to think about exact calorie counts. These quick lists of 5 Best and Worst Thanksgiving foods will help you make healthier choices.
5 BEST THANKSGIVING FOODS
1) White Turkey Meat
White turkey meat is one of the most filling, nutritious and low-calorie items on the Thanksgiving table (unless you add gravy to it, of course). It’s an excellent source of lean protein, and also contains folic acid, vitamin B, zinc, and potassium. These nutrients can help keep blood cholesterol down, protect against cancer and heart disease, and boost the immune system.
2) Sweet Potatoes
You don’t need to pile on the marshmallows and butter for these to taste good. In fact, mashed yams are often soft enough and tasty enough that you may not need to add any ingredients at all. For a more creamy flavorful yam, just add a little skim milk and some cinnamon and nutmeg. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of filling, healthy fiber and vitamin A.
If there’s any green salad on the table this Thanksgiving, definitely partake. The greens will help your digestion Often holiday salads are loaded with cheeses or creamy dressings, so keep your eye out for those. If you’re bringing something, consider volunteering to bring salad and make a healthy one that you would enjoy eating.
4) Green Beans, Corn and Other Veggies
Much like the salad, if you find unadulterated vegetables on the Thanksgiving table, rejoice and dig in. However, beware of green bean and other veggie casseroles. Casseroles typically contain butter, crackers or creamed canned soups which can turn healthy veggies into high-calorie, high-fat foods.
5) Pumpkin Pie
Yes, pumpkin pie is on this list. Why pie? Pie is one of those treats that’s pretty difficult to so no to on Thanksgiving – and for many of us pumpkin pie is a childhood favorite. There’s good news. If you do decide to allow yourself a treat on Thanksgiving, Pumpkin Pie is the best pie of the bunch. A slice has only 316 calories and 14 grams of fat, and is relatively low calorie in comparison with other Thanksgiving pies.
1) Dinner Rolls
There are so many other tastier, healthier starches on the table today that it’s best to just skip the dinner rolls. Usually they’re eaten with plenty of butter, and often we eat more than one. That’s where the calories really start to add up!
2) Cranberry Sauce
Cranberries by themselves aren’t bad for you – in fact they do have health benefits. The trouble is, they’re so tart that you really can’t eat them without sweetening them…with a LOT of sugar. A very small 1/4 cup portion of the Ocean Spray brand has only 110 calories but 21 grams of sugars (that’s about 4 tablespoons). Go easy on the sauce this Thanksgiving.
3) Pecan Pie
Between the loads of corn syrup, the brown sugar, the butter and the pecans themselves, Pecan Pie is a fat and calorie bomb. One slice contains over 500 calories and 27 grams of fat. As mentioned above, if you want to have pie on Thanksgiving, opt for pumpkin!
Typical American stuffing is made of white bread, lots of butter and a veggie veggies. If it’s cooked inside the turkey, it’ll soak up the fat drippings. One cup of stuffing averages around 4000 calories, so if you choose to partake, make it a small portion.
Potatoes on their own aren’t so bad, but mashed potatoes are generally made with lots of butter, whole milk and/or sour cream, which means one cup can contain more than 300 calories. A single table spoon (that’s not much to top your potatoes with) of gravy has 60 calories. Since there are some low calorie adaptations for mashed potatoes that you can make at home any day of the year, consider skipping them on Thanksgiving.
At Athlean-XX for Women, we’re all about healthy nutrition because it helps us lose weight and have energy for our tough workouts! Our nutrition plan recommends combining proteins and slow-burning carbohydrates at every meal and snack to help keep you feeling full. In fact, the Athlean-XX for Women nutrition plan is anything but a diet – we actually recommend you eat more – 5 – 6 times per day! This type of diet will help turn your metabolism into a fat burning machine – when combined with our killer 30 minute workouts. Yes, with Athlean-XX for Women, eat more, exercise shorter but harder and weigh less! Join us on Team Athlean to start your lifestyle makeover now!
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