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The Illustrated Guide to Finishing Thanksgiving Dinner without Busting a Button

Did you know the average Thanksgiving dinner is between 3,000 and 4,500 calories? Read on for a few tips on how to enjoy the big meal without feeling stuffed like a Turkey Day bird.
The Illustrated Guide to Finishing Thanksgiving Dinner without Busting a Button

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Thanksgiving Day is not a time to be counting calories — enjoy yourself! But while nomming on a rich meal once a year isn’t exactly a healthy diet deal-breaker, it’s smart to keep an eye on what you’re consuming so you don’t go too crazy with that fifth slice of pie. According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American chows down on 4,500 calories worth of turkey, stuffing, and cornbread at Thanksgiving dinner. The American Council on Exercise and The New York Times aim a little lower, claiming that the number of calories is really around 3,000. Either way, all of the sources estimate that we eat more in one sitting on Thanksgiving than we’re normally advised to eat in an entire day!

If that data is tough to visualize, here’s a breakdown of what 3,000 calories looks like in regular everyday food: 

The moral of this story? It’s possible to cut down a teeny, tiny bit on Thanksgiving day (without feeling deprived) and save the amount of calories in an entire Big Mac burger. Think about it!

Turkey Day Tips

When Grandma adds a third scoop of mashed potatoes to the plate before you’ve even finished the turkey, it can be tough to keep track of portion sizes. That's why we're here to help. Last year, we created a handy-dandy guide comparing one serving of classic Thanksgiving dishes to common household objects. This year, we’re taking it one step further with this plate guide diagram. Follow these guidelines for a delicious, reasonably healthy celebratory dinner — that clocks in around 1,300 calories, less than half the average Thanksgiving amount. Dig in! 

(Also check it: 33 Thanksgiving Recipes Made With Real Food

What strategies do you use to keep track of serving sizes on Thanksgiving (or do you go cold turkey on portion control)? Share in the comments below or get in touch with the author on Twitter @SophBreene.

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