Dietitians Dish: Have a happy more diet-friendly Thanksgiving

By Lindsey Adams
Nov. 26, 2013 at 5:26 a.m.

It's no secret that the main perk of Thanksgiving is getting to eat all sorts of yummy dishes. While it may be a good day to splurge a little, things can easily get out of hand. The Calorie Control Council estimates that adults consume an average of 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day.

To put that in perspective, this is two to three times the typical recommended daily intake for women and men, which ranges from about 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day.

Additionally, consumption of 3,500 calories that are not burned off would result in a weight gain of 1 pound. To burn off 4,500 calories, you would have to go on a 15-hour brisk walk.

So with Thanksgiving at hand, it is not too late to adjust some of your recipes to help cut down on some of the excess calories and fat.

Here are some of the easiest substitutions.

Unsweetened applesauce or pureed prunes can be substituted for oil in oil-based recipes (quick breads, muffins and some cakes). The oil can be replaced using the equivalent amount of applesauce or pureed prunes, or you can experiment with different ratios. Keep in mind that lower fat dishes may dry out easily, so watch the timer. When vegetable oil is listed in recipes for frying or sauteing, use nonstick cooking spray, olive oil or canola oil in reduced amounts.

Substitutions involving dairy products are pretty simple because you can just use low-fat versions. Instead of whole or 2 percent milk, use skim or 1 percent milk and try reduced fat cheeses.

Fat-free cheese is not recommended for cooking. Sour cream can be substituted with an equivalent amount of low-fat or fat-free plain yogurt. If being used in a recipe, which must be cooked, you should add one tablespoon of cornstarch per cup of yogurt and fat-free plain yogurt should only be used in sweet recipes because it can become sweeter when heated.

You can also reduce sugar by one-third to one-half of what the recipe calls for or use a sugar substitute.

Replace sugar with the equivalent amount of sucralose (Splenda) or use one-half sugar and one-half sucralose. You may also replace 1 cup of sugar with 1 teaspoon of liquid stevia.

With many ingredients, especially those used as a topping, remember you don't have to use as much as the recipe calls for. Examples of these types of ingredients include nuts, chocolate chips, cheese or crumb toppings (which are often soaked in butter).

In addition to these ingredient alterations, portion control can really help you out at Thanksgiving.

Try a little of each dish, but keep it to just that. Playing flag football or going for walk after your Thanksgiving meal is also a good way to enjoy your family and burn a few of those extra calories at the same time.

Have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving, and don't let this holiday sabotage all of your healthy eating goals.

Lindsay Adams is a registered dietitian with DeTar Health Systems. Send questions or comments to



Powered By AffectDigitalMedia