Enjoy a little extra of your favorite food on Turkey Day—minus the regret—with strategic trade-offs that balance out your plate.
1. I have to have... turkey (light and dark meat) and gravy
Splurge on the bird—the protein in turkey helps slow the digestion and absorption of carbs, resulting in more stable blood sugar and insulin control. That means you won't be scrounging in the fridge for leftovers an hour after eating.
• If you can live without the skin, you'll save about 4 grams of fat from a 4-ounce portion.
• Keep servings of stuffing and mashed potatoes to about the size of half tennis balls, or have a whole-tennis-ball-size portion of one or the other.
• Pile up the white and dark meat for a portion that's as large as a bar and a half of soap.
• You can have enough gravy and cranberry sauce to fill a shot glass each.
• For dessert, savor a sliver of pie. Use the two-thumbnail guide (see previous slide).
Total: 740 calories
2. I have to have... cranberry sauce
Sure, cranberry sauce can be full of sugar, but those berries are also loaded with antioxidants called anthocyanins, which have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and Parkinson's.
• No matter which plate you pick, round out the meal with a handful of lightly sautéed green beans.
• If this tangy-sweet staple is your weakness, go for a big scoop, about half the size of a tennis ball.
• Add matching portions of stuffing and mashed potatoes, along with a helping of skinless white-meat turkey the size of a smartphone. Top it with a shot-glass-size portion of gravy.
• For dessert—yes, you still get it!—grab only a sliver of pie (use two thumbnails as a width guide) to keep the total sugar in check.
Total: 745 calories
3. I have to have... dessert
Thanksgiving pies are often made with superfood fillings, such as vitamin A-rich pumpkin and antioxidant-spiked fruits, like raspberries and apples. But they're also full of fat and sugar, so it's important to plan around that hunk of pie.
• During dinner, have a thin portion of skinless white-meat turkey (picture a smartphone). Stuffing and mashed potato servings should be about the size of a large egg each.
• You can get about an eighth of the pie. Choose one favorite or two half portions of different pies.
• Stick to a golf-ball-size dollop each of gravy and cranberry sauce.
Total: 760 calories
4. I have to have... stuffing
Go ahead: Spoon up a generous portion, about the size of your fist. Bonus if it's made with whole-grain bread or cornbread, which counts as a serving of whole grains (fitting in at least three daily servings of which is tied to a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease).
• Opt for a portion of skinless white-meat turkey about as big as a smartphone, topped with golf-ball-size dollops of gravy and cranberry sauce.
• Ready for dessert? Have pumpkin or fruit pie. And no need to stay with a sliver: Make a peace sign with your fingers. The widest part of the slice should equal the distance between your index and middle fingertips.
• To compensate for all those carbs, keep your portion of mashed potatoes to the size of a large egg.
Total: 750 calories