Ways to cut back on calories - and still enjoy Thanksgiving

What's your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal? I think for me, it's the stuffing. Whatever you put on your plate - there is a good strategy to keep in mind so you're feeling full but not overstuffed.

The average American consumes about 3,000 calories in a single Thanksgiving meal.    

"Turkey has tryptophan in it which is that wonderful chemical that makes you sleepy," said Dr. Christina Lucas. "So everybody kind of eats their afternoon meal or whatnot and then we fall asleep watching football. And then we get up and we eat some more, and when we do that, our bodies just constantly load up with fuel, but we’re not exactly taking a family walk or running and burning that out so it’s all about input and not output."

Dr. Lucas from Henry Ford Health, says there are ways to cut back on the calories and still enjoy the feast.

"So it’s really important - smaller and more frequent meals," she said. "So instead of eating that whole piece of turkey and mashed potatoes and the cranberry and everything, take half. Or what I tell patients to use - use a dessert plate.  Use so that mentally your place full but the sizing portion is half."

You can also make healthy adjustments while cooking in the kitchen.

"So when you’re looking at a recipe right? Because it’s all chemistry - see if you can cut the butter and the oils in half for that recipe, or substitute," Dr. Lucas said. "There’s a lot of great whole food plant-based things that you can substitute with. Instead of using milk, try using oat milk which is great flavor for baked goods. If you’re using oil, you can use pumpkin purée which is the same ratio, or applesauce."

There's always an annual debate pumpkin pie versus sweet potato. I did a little research about which is healthier, a cup of boiled pumpkin against a cup of boiled sweet potato.

Pumpkin is much lower in calories and sugar and carbs, but sweet potatos are higher in fiber protein, and nutrients. So there's no clear winner!

By the way, Dr. Lucas says to make a post-meal walk part of your tradition.