These Are The Worst Thanksgiving Dishes For Your Health

These Are The Worst Thanksgiving Dishes For Your Health

A lot of people look forward to the Thanksgiving feast for months. Is it a healthy holiday? Absolutely not, but people excuse themselves from diet restrictions on Turkey Day to gorge on the impressive spread. Between the casseroles, turkey, stuffing, pies, mashed potatoes, and endless selection of other sides, it’s safe to say that you can easily rack up the calories. In fact, the Calorie Control Council estimates that the average American consumes about 4,500 calories during the Thanksgiving feast alone. That doesn’t even include the rest of the day!

Just in case you were wondering, 4,500 calories is more than double the recommended daily calories you should consume in a day. Research has shown that Americans experience an average weight increase of up to 0.2% over Thanksgiving, and 0.4% over Christmas. That may not sound like a lot, but the average person doesn’t lose that weight either. Year after year, this can accumulate and cause a lot of weight gain. 

While there are certain dishes that you can only get on Thanksgiving, exercise moderation and control when you encounter these foods. Most foods are on the “naughty list,” dietarily speaking, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid them entirely. Enter the Thanksgiving feast with a game plan and do your best to control your portions, especially in regards to the following unhealthy dishes


People love to gobble up stuffing, which is nothing but a calorically dense, carbohydrate-rich, fattening side dish. It does taste good though, right? Most people use store bought stuffing mixes, which contain preservatives, excess sodium, and processed ingredients. Plus, stuffing often contains bacon, giblets, and sausage, which can increase the calories to 500 per cup. Many people often eat more than two cups, accounting for 1,000 calories with one dish. Get a small portion, or make stuffing a little healthier by using less meat in your stuffing. Consider reducing the butter content by 50% and using lower-calorie and lower-sodium ingredients as well. 

Green Bean Casserole

You either love it or you hate it, but green bean casserole is a staple on many holiday tables. It’s a vegetable dish, so how can it be unhealthy? Even though it may be the only green you see on the Thanksgiving menu, it tends to contain 200 calories, 22 grams of carbs, 8 grams of saturated fat, and 574 milligrams of sodium per serving. Keep in mind that most people use canned creamy soup and fried onions, increasing the sodium, fat, and calorie content. If you do make it, try to use fresh green beans and low-sodium soup to keep the sodium down. 

Pecan Pie

Perhaps the most calorically-dense item at the Thanksgiving feast, pecan pie tends to be a family favorite. You may want to rethink your dessert choice, now that you know a slice of this pie contains over 500 calories and a ton of sugar. Gut health experts agree that pecan pie is one of the worst food options at Thanksgiving. Try something a little lighter, less buttery, and less sugary for dessert. Baked apples with cinnamon topped with Greek yogurt are quite lovely!

Macaroni And Cheese

Traditional mac and cheese recipes call for milk, butter, piles of cheese, and potentially more milk and butter. Plus, you have the enriched flour and carbs from macaroni. That means that this staple side dish can topple over the 1,000-calorie mark per serving. It’s difficult to lighten this serving, but you can do it. Use smaller amounts of flavorful cheese like sharp cheddar or pepper Jack, and consider supplementing with reduced fat cheese. Add vegetables like chopped cauliflower or cubed butternut squash to your mac and cheese to replace some of the pasta. 

Candied Yams

For some people, Thanksgiving is not complete without a dish of yams topped with golden-brown marshmallows. Unfortunately, this dish contains about 450 calories per serving due to the artery-clogging fat from all the cream and butter. Plus, the processed, sugary marshmallows only add unhealthy preservatives and chemicals to the mix. There are so many ways to make this sweet potato dish a lot healthier! Use low-fat milk and flour for thickening instead of using heavy cream. Lastly, make a lighter, crunchy topping with some chopped pecans and a few pinches of brown sugar. 

Mashed Potatoes

Potatoes have an impressive nutritional profile, but the copious amounts of butter, cream, and milk make mashed potatoes quite an unhealthy dish. In fact, an average serving of mashed potatoes contains 400 calories. Drizzle a hefty amount of gravy on the potatoes and you raise the calorie count by 200. There are so many alternatives to mashed potatoes that offer more nutritional value, so long as you skip all the butter and cream. Opt for mashed cauliflower or a combination of potatoes and root vegetables like parsnips. Celeriac is another great potato alternative!



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