Cutting Thanksgiving Calories

The truth about Thanksgiving calories

Thanksgiving means family -- and food. Despite our best intentions, good eating habits are often forgotten during the holiday festivities. Estimates clock the calorie count of the average holiday dinner between 3,000 and 4,500 calories. There's good news, though: With these tips from TOPS, a nonprofit weight loss organization, Thanksgiving dinner won't be a total diet downfall.

1. Eat beforehand
Consider eating a light snack before the big meal, like a low-calorie dip and some vegetables or yogurt in order to control your appetite.

2. Cook smart dishes
When cooking, look for places in the recipe to switch out ingredients for healthier alternatives. Try replacing butter with olive oil or sugar with honey.

3. Bring smart dishes
If you're bringing a dish to a friend or family member's house, make it a healthy one: fiber-filled, Vitamin A-rich sweet potatoes are a strong choice, as long as you leave the marshmellow topping at home!

4. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol can flow freely during a holiday meal, but many beers have between 150 to 200 calories per 12 oz. serving. Try skipping them in favor of a low-calorie beer or one of the new "light" liquors. Or switch to a no-calorie soda or nonalcoholic beverage instead.

5. Choose wisely
Stock your plate with some buffet "best bets:" fresh fruit, reduced-fat cheeses and turkey breast can help cut back on sodium, fat and calories. What's more, the USDA recommends filling half your plate with vegetables to fill you up on fiber before dessert even comes around.

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Adam Carlson
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