Your Thanksgiving Dinner Has How Many Calories?
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Published on November 11, 2016

typical thanksgiving meal

Your Thanksgiving Dinner Has How Many Calories?

My how those holiday treats add up. The typical Thanksgiving Day meal includes turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and a glass of wine. If you ate one of each of these things your calorie intake for that meal alone would be 1,777 calories.

That’s right — 1,777 calories, which would take five hours of exercise to burn off.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • 8 ounces of turkey – 480 calories
  • 1 cup serving mashed potatoes and gravy – 257 calories
  • 1 cup stuffing – 350 calories
  • 1 cup cranberry sauce – 257 calories
  • 1 slice pumpkin pie – 350 calories
  • 6-ounce glass of wine –120 calories

Who has the energy to exercise five hours on a holiday? Hy-Vee Dietitian Robbyn Nelson has some tips on how to cut the calories and still enjoy all the Thanksgiving fix in’s.

  • Remove the skin from turkey, eat the white meat.
  • Flavor sweet potatoes with apple juice and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  • Whip mashed potatoes with skim milk and roasted garlic.
  • Oven bake stuffing with sautéed onions and celery.
  • Skip the green bean casserole and enjoy fresh, steamed green beans, topped with slivered almonds
  • Use whole cranberry sauce rather than jellied cranberry sauce.
  • Choose whole-wheat, high-fiber breads and rolls.
  • Slice your favorite pie into 10 pieces instead of eight.
  • Savor a piece of peppermint after the holiday dinner if you have a craving.
  • Control portions by using a smaller plate or bowl. Save your extra calories for a special holiday treat you only get once a year.
  • Don’t pass on the protein. Include lean-proteins in snacks and meals to help balance carbohydrate-rich foods, avoid blood sugar spikes and feel full longer.
  • Get moving. Five hours may be too much but every bit counts — take a pre-run meal or get a post-meal football game started.
  • Bring veggies and fruit to potlucks to balance out other heavier foods.

French Onion Dip

Serves: 10 (about 1/4 cup each); Source: Eating Well


  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped onions
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 (14 oz.) can reduced-sodium beef broth or 1 3/4 cups mushroom broth
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tbsp. distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 6 to 10 minutes. Add broth, scrape up any browned bits, and simmer until the liquid is almost evaporated, 10 to 20 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the onions are deep golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes more. Stir in onion powder, then stir in vinegar and cook until evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 20 minutes.
  2. Combine sour cream and yogurt in a medium bowl. Stir in the onion mixture. Chill for at least 30 minutes to blend flavors.

To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate the onion mixture (Step 1) for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Cover and refrigerate the dip for up to 3 days.

Nutrition facts per serving: 82 calories, 5g fat, 2g saturated fat, 10mg cholesterol, 203mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 4g sugar, 3g protein.

Sources: USDA Food Tracker/ Super Tracker, Eating Well Magazine

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