It’s that time of year again — your candy hangover from Halloween has subsided, and you have Thanksgiving on the brain. And when it comes to decadence, there’s no meal that beats this one. We’re imagining a spread of turkey, different types of potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, and of course, some fresh pies.
So, how bad can one night of overindulgence be for your waistline? And is skipping that slice of cranberry sauce really going to make any difference? We have the answers.
First, the turkey — 200 calories
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a delicious roasted bird as a centerpiece. Lucky for all of us, turkey is one of the leaner meats you can consume, and there’s plenty of satiating protein in just one serving. Shape notes 4 ounces of white meat (about the size of a deck of cards) is just 158 calories and less than 1 gram of saturated fat.
If you’re a dark meat lover or you go for the skin, however, it goes all downhill. Four ounces of dark meat with the skin is over 200 calories and nearly 3 grams of saturated fat.
Stuffing — 350 calories
Who doesn’t love this savory side dish? Unfortunately, this Thanksgiving staple is one of the unhealthiest on the table. The American Grandparents Association notes two large spoonfuls (about 1 cup) of bread stuffing comes to 350 calories and 17 grams of fat. If you’re curious, that’s about the same as a chili cheese dog.
Things get even worse for this dish if you’re keen on adding sausage to your stuffing. You can expect another 100 calories and several grams of fat per serving in this case.
Mashed potatoes with gravy — 300 calories
This is a favorite amongst just about everyone at the table, so we know you won’t be skipping out on your portion. But if you like your potatoes with plenty of butter and gravy, you can expect a gut-busting addition to your meal. Livestrong.com notes 1 cup of mashed potatoes made with whole milk is a mere 174 calories, but adding butter catapults that calorie count up to 237.
As for the gravy, we’re estimating a ladle-full will run you another 50 to 60 calories or so.
Green bean casserole — 140 calories
This side dish at least utilizes some healthy green veggies, so it’s not the most offensive food on the table. With that said, you’re still getting an unhealthy dose of saturated fat thanks to the cream of mushroom soup and fried onions on top. Greatist explains a 1-cup serving of classic green bean casserole will run you 140 calories and 8 grams of fat.
If you want to make this recipe a little healthier, go for a low-calorie cream of mushroom soup. You can also sauté your own onions instead of using the classic fried ones.
Candied sweet potatoes — 320 calories
Here’s another highly offensive dish that also comes with a boatload of sugar. Sweet potatoes are full of vitamins B6, C, and D — but you’ll ruin it if you’re a fan of the sugared-up dish (or if you throw marshmallows on top, for that matter). MyFitnessPal says 1 cup of these potatoes will run you 320 calories and a whopping 56 grams of sugar. That’s on par with the pie you’ll be eating later.
Cranberry sauce — 110 calories
Cranberry sauce seems like that harmless addition to your plate you don’t spend much time thinking about. But if you’re going for the jellied variety that’s everyone’s holiday favorite, you’ll be adding about 110 calories and 24 grams of sugar to your meal for only a 1/4-cup serving.
If you’re unsure of how many calories your personal portion of cranberry sauce is, think of it this way: One thick slice is about 85 calories. Now you see how quick this can add up.
Pie — 400 calories
Sorry, pie lovers, but this is really what’s bound to take your meal over the top. According to Shape, pecan pie is the worst offender, as one slice contains over 500 calories and 27 grams of fat thanks to the pecans and sugar filling. Cherry pie is close behind, with one slice being over 480 calories, 22 grams of fat, and as much sugar as 10 donuts.
If you’re a pumpkin pie fan, we have good news — you can have a slice for just 300 calories and 14 grams of fat.
The final countdown
If we’re just counting the listed items, you’re already up to 1,820 calories for one plate of food and dessert. If this is all you’re having for the day, bravo! But we’re betting you’re also indulging in seconds of certain dishes, snacks before the big meal, and plenty of wine to wash it all down.
The Calorie Control Council says you may consume up to 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat in total during any one of your holiday gatherings. While the majority of this comes from the meal itself, you can expect to eat nearly 1,500 calories in appetizers and drinks, too.