Let's Talk Turkey

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: May 26, 2010

If your waistline is dreading the advent of Thanksgiving dinner, don’t despair. It is possible to have an enjoyable holiday dinner without gaining weight and without skipping out on the turkey and many of your favorite side dishes.

Oh how we love our side dishes! Most of the side dishes we are so fond of are actually healthy foods. Think about all of the good vitamins and nutrients found in sweet potatoes, cranberries, green beans and all the other vegetables that are usually at the table. Give the butter the boot and kick the cream to the curb. They don’t have to be loaded with extra calories in order to be tasty, really.

Can’t give up the stuffing and gravy? I can’t either. It is difficult to have Thanksgiving without these two calorie-crammed key ingredients. Serve up lower fat versions of these favorites. Strain the fat from the gravy drippings and leave out the butter or roux. Try using cornstarch or flour, fresh herbs and a little wine for flavor. For the stuffing, leave out the butter, use a fat-free broth and add some fresh veggies instead of meats. Cook it separately from the bird. The turkey drippings are extra calories and extra fattening.

Let’s talk turkey. Choosing white meat over dark meat has its advantages. Three ounces of white meat (without the skin) has about 120 calories and 1 gram of fat. Dark meat has about 160 calories and six grams of fat (two of which are saturated) for a three-ounce serving size.

Easy does it. Take everything in moderation. Too much of a good thing can be bad; especially when talking about food! Here are some tips to take to the table:

  • Don’t overeat. Keep your portion sizes to a minimum. A good rule of thumb is to limit the portions to no more than half a cup (a quarter of a cup for the stuffing). And that doesn’t mean eat 12 sides! Try limiting yourself to one or two this year.
  • Lose the unnecessary, fattening rolls and butter.
  • Take it easy on the appetizers. Opt for a few fresh veggies or fruits or nuts.
  • Don’t starve yourself before dinner. People tend to overeat at Thanksgiving dinner because they haven’t eaten all day. While you’re watching football, munch a few of the healthy offerings.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption. It’s so easy to become consumed by the celebrating and forget all about your limits when it comes to drinking. Drink water before dinner instead of wine. That way, you’ll feel fuller when you eat and you’ll also be able to have a glass of wine with dinner!
  • If you can’t resist indulging in mashers, try using fat-free milk and fat-free sour cream instead of butter and heavy cream.
  • Avoid topping your veggies with butter or cheesy sauces. Remember, veggies are good for you except when they are slathered in all the fat!
  • Enjoy your turkey but lose the skin. Choose white meat instead of dark.
  • Make the right dessert decisions. A slice of pumpkin pie has about 316 calories (with 130 of them from fat) whereas a slice of pecan pie is about 503 calories (244 of them from fat). Whoa! These are a lot of calories but if you’re planning on dessert, just keep them in mind.
  • Have a good attitude. Keep in mind that Thanksgiving is not all about the food. There is so much to be thankful for. What are you thankful for this year?


Lowfat Cooking, About.com, 2007

How to Plan a Lowfat Meal, ehow.com, 2005