Thanksgiving Dinner Makeover


Thanksgiving is the beginning of a long and indulgent holiday season— the first day in a 6-week onslaught of food and drinks. But, you can give your Thanksgiving dinner a makeover and start the holiday season on the right foot, without disrupting your healthy eating goals.

“Everyone needs some indulgences, you just can’t let them get out of control,” says Amber Cranfield, RD, LD, registered dietitian at St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center. “So have those special foods you may only eat once a year, but watch your portions and make intentional choices about what you’re eating.”

Some key tips to keeping your portions in control this Thanksgiving:

  • Carbs tend to be the downfall at Thanksgiving dinner. It is what everyone at the table craves, and they are easy to over due.
  • Before you grab your plate, look at everything on the table and think through what you want the most. Then give yourself a spoonful of each, not a shovel full.
  • Don’t make yourself sick. Not eating all day in preparation of a big meal won’t make room for more food – your stomach is only so big.

Slimming Down Traditional Thanksgiving Dishes

If you had a plate full of all the traditional Thanksgiving goodies, with a small slice of pie, your Thanksgiving meal would top 2000 calories. That isn’t including the appetizers, wine, or second helpings!

It may be easier than you think to slim down your traditional dishes—and your friends and family at the table won’t even notice the missing calories.

Mashed Potatoes

  • Traditional – Made with cream and butter: 1 cup = 300 calories.
  • Skinny – Made with skim milk, sour cream and chicken broth: 1 cup = 220 calories.
  • Substitute – Try a creamy cauliflower puree: 1 cup = 80 calories.


  • Traditional – Made with drippings and fat: 1/2 cup = 100 calories.
  • Skinny – Separate fat out of drippings: 1/2 cup = 80 calories.


  • Traditional – Made with butter: 1 cup = 300 calories.
  • Skinny – Add vegetables and healthier fillings: 1 cup = 250 calories.

Green Bean Casserole

  • Traditional – Made with Cream of Mushroom Soup: 1 cup = 150 calories.
  • Skinny – Made with Fat-Free Cream of Mushroom Soup: 1 cup = 69 calories.
  • Substitute – Try a roasted parmesan green bean recipe: 1 cup = 55 calories.

Sweet Potato Casserole

  • Traditional – Made with brown sugar and marshmallows: 1 cup = 300 calories
  • Skinny – Use half the marshmallows and a brown sugar blend (Splenda): 1 cup = 250 calories
  • Substitute – Try a maple-roasted sweet potato recipe: 1 cup = 180 calories.

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