How Many Calories are in Your Thanksgiving Dinner?
Before You Give Thanks and Dig In, Read This
When you have a general idea of how many calories are in the foods you're eating, especially at Thanksgiving, it's easier to maintain a balanced diet and lifestyle.
With that in mind, let’s explore how many calories are in the standard Thanksgiving dinner, and how to exercise balance in your food choices. We aren’t advocating deprivation of your favorite holiday foods, but knowing what you’re eating will help you make the best choices for your goals.
How many calories are in the average Thanksgiving dinner?
Estimates vary based on the source
, but the general consensus is that the average Thanksgiving dinner in the U.S. clocks in around 3,000 to 4,500 calories. Regardless of the exact number, it’s far more calories than most people will consume throughout a whole day (when it’s not Thanksgiving, obviously).
That meal includes
turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole, a dinner roll with butter, pecan pie, vanilla ice cream, and a glass of red wine.
To help you visualize what 3,000 calories looks like, consider these examples:
- 12 turkey sandwiches
- 11.5 Starbucks pumpkin spiced lattes
- 17.7 crunchy tacos from Taco Bell
Eating healthier during Thanksgiving
Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner while cutting a substantial amount of calories. Here are some tips to try:
- Don’t skip breakfast! Start your day with a light and healthy breakfast and you’ll be less likely to overindulge.
- Stick with skinless, white meat turkey, or enjoy a mix of white and dark meat.
- Fill a good chunk of your plate with salad, veggies, and other whole, healthy choices.
- Go easy on the sauces, like gravy, when piling up your plate. Remember, you can always get more.
- Enjoy lighter meals in the days following Thanksgiving.
- Get outside and exercise to work off some of those calories and keep your body happy.
If you’ll be doing the cooking you can have even more control over how healthy your Thanksgiving meal is. If you need some culinary inspiration, this list of 34 healthier Thanksgiving recipes
from Greatist will have you cooking up a storm.
Choosing healthier Thanksgiving desserts
We’ll end on a sweet note — dessert! Pies are a Thanksgiving staple, but different pies have wildly varying calorie counts
, and knowing those nutrition facts can help you make the best choices.
Traditional pecan pie has 503 calories and 27 grams of fat per slice. Apple pie contains 411 calories and 19 grams of fat per slice, making it a slightly healthier choice. Pumpkin pie lovers are in luck, though. Pumpkin pie has 316 calories and 14 grams of fat per slice.
Not ready to give up the pecan pie, but still want to cut back on calories? Simply cut a slice in half, and enjoy without guilt.
What do you think — is there any way you consume 3,000 to 4,500 calories during Thanksgiving dinner? Do you go all out, or do you try to control yourself? There’s no right or wrong answer!