Healthy Thanksgiving Tips (+ Food Portion Sizes & Calories)

Here are healthy Thanksgiving tips to help you stay on track this holiday, with Thanksgiving food portion sizes and calories.

Thanksgiving is a special holiday that allows us to gather with family and friends and to share a little bit of extra thanks to those around us. As we all know, this gathering is also very much centered around food and the traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Having a plan from these healthy Thanksgiving tips will allow you to enjoy this special holiday and also help you feel good about the food choices that you make.

Your mentality with portion control and building your Thanksgiving plate is an important first step to a healthy holiday. Another key factor is an understanding of the foods you may see, and how their nutritional values add up.

It’s also important to remember that one meal can’t derail you from all of your health goals. We are all human and should enjoy foods that bring us joy. The key element is finding a place of moderation and realizing how to make the most of the holidays while also being conscious of how you feel and what is on your plate.

10 Healthy Thanksgiving Tips

These tips for the holiday are ten main things to keep in mind during Thanksgiving as well as the full holiday season. It can be a challenging time of year for weight loss with the holiday parties, gatherings with family and friends, and the introduction of new delicious foods. But you can still reach your goals!

  1. Practice portion control
  2. Include vegetables
  3. Be extra aware of portion sizes for heartier foods
  4. Give yourself 20 minutes before going for seconds
  5. Bring a homemade dish to a gathering
  6. Eat well the day before Thanksgiving
  7. Eat breakfast on Thanksgiving
  8. Remember portion control for desserts
  9. Bring a snack with you
  10. Be smart with leftovers

Keep reading for more about each of these healthy Thanksgiving tips.

1. Practice Portion Control

Remember to practice portion control when deciding what to put on your plate. Your hand can be a great measurement tool.

  • For females the palm of your hand is about 3-4 oz of meat and your fist is about 1 cup of grains.  
  • For males the palm of your hand is about 5-6 oz of meat and your fist about 1.5 cup of grains.

2. Include Vegetables

A healthy Thanksgiving meal should also include vegetables such as greens, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, or another favorite. Don’t hesitate to add a bit more of these to your plate so that you can fill up on fibrous foods before feeling like you overdid it.

3. Be Aware of Specific Food Portions

Try to stick to smaller portions of richer foods such as mashed potatoes and gravy as well as stuffing and fattier meats such as the dark meat on the turkey and the less lean cuts of ham and beef. View the charts below for portion sizes and calories. You can jump to any of them by clicking on one of these links:

4. Be Aware of Portion Sizes for Heavier Foods

Remember to wait at least 20 minutes before going back for seconds (this is when your body’s fullness detection really kicks in), so that you can tell if you really need to eat more.

5. Bring a Homemade Dish to a Gathering

Another great idea for keeping calories down is to take your own dish to a potluck event, or to offer to bring a dish to add to your host’s dinner selections.  This way you’ll know exactly what ingredients were used (and that you like the dish!) as well as what the serving size is.  You can also show off your cooking talents to your friends and family.

6. Eat Well the Day Before Thanksgiving

Start eating wisely the day before Thanksgiving, beginning with a healthy and nutritious breakfast. Eat throughout the day to avoid overeating tomorrow too.

7. Eat Breakfast on Thanksgiving

When you wake up ready to enjoy the holiday, start your day out right by again making sure to EAT BREAKFAST.  Don’t even think about trying to save calories up for the generous Thanksgiving meal.  By eating breakfast and lunch, you’ll not only eat less, but you’ll also enjoy your food more at dinner time.

8. Remember Portion Control for Desserts

If you are planning to eat desserts like I am then portion control your sizes and you can have it all.  Remember to eat slowly and enjoy every bite of your pumpkin, apple, or pecan pie. Mmmmm.

9. Bring a Snack with You

Bring a small snack with you just in case.  I know it sounds weird but if you are going to some else’s home and dinner is delayed because Uncle Ben is running late, then you may end up very hungry and eating more than you were planning.

10. Be Smart with Leftovers

Another great tip is to send your guests home with leftovers.  Don’t keep extra food around. On the contrary, remembering that you will have some leftovers will also help you feel better about not overeating on Thanksgiving Day. There will be more to enjoy on the other days to come! Share your food to maintain or lose weight!  I know you can do it!

Portion Sizes and Calories for Common Thanksgiving Foods

While the preparation methods of some foods can change the caloric value, it is helpful to have a general idea going into the day. This way, you can already have a few foods in mind ahead of time that you know you’ll feel better about eating. Below you will find these portion sizes and calorie values broken down for protein foods (fish, poultry, and meat), carbohydrates (grains and starches), desserts, and drinks.

Portion Sizes & Calories for Thanksgiving Fish, Poultry & Meats

Food ItemServing Size (oz)Calories (kcal)
Turkey White Meat Without Skin3105
Turkey Dark Meat Without Skin 3165
Turkey White Meat With Skin3165 
Turkey Dark Meat With Skin3225
Deep-Fried Turkey White Meat Without Skin165 
Deep-Fried Turkey Dark Meat without Skin 270 
Deep-Fried Turkey White Meat With Skin270 
Deep-Fried Turkey Dark Meat With Skin 315 
Ham 201
Pork Tenderloin165
Roast Pork Loin165 
Roast Beef 165 
Roast Chicken (skinless white meat)105
Roast Chicken (skinless dark meat)3165 
Prime Rib 3225 
Duck Breast3105 
Cornish Hens 3105
Roasted Salmon3165 
Roasted Skin-on Goose3305
Roasted Skin-off Goose238 

Portion Sizes & Calories for Thanksgiving Grains and Starches

Food ItemServing Size (oz)Calories (kcal)
Mashed Potatoes (w/ milk, butter)1/2 cup125 
Stuffing 1/2 cup207
Sweet Potatoes, cooked with skin3 oz80
Candied Yams1/2 cup 241 
Wild Rice Pilaf 1/2 cup 195 
Dinner Rolls1 (3 oz) 240 
Biscuits1 biscuit 125 
Crescent Rolls 1 (1 oz) 110 
latkas (potato pancakes)145 grams 240 
Loukoumades (Fried Honey Puffs)1 puff 92 

Portion Sizes & Calories for Thanksgiving Desserts

 Food Item Serving Size (oz)Calories (kcal)
Pumpkin Pie 1/8 of 8″ pie 230 
Pecan Pie1/6 of 8″ pie460 
Pumpkin Cheesecake 1 slice (5.5 oz)535 
Apple Pie 1/8 of 9″ pie311 
Bread Pudding w/ Rum Sauce1 (7 oz)850 
Bread Pudding w/ Caramel Sauce1 (5.7 oz)449 
Fruit Crisp or Cobbler 1/2 cup 185 
Pumpkin Spice Cake 1 slice 412 
Sweet Potato Pie 1/6 of 8″ pie358 
Lemon Meringue Pie 1/6 of 8″ pie 334
Lemon Cream Pie 1 slice (2.3 oz)185 
Custard Pie 1/8 of 8″ pie 255 
Chocolate Cake 1 slice (2.3 oz) 260
Chocolate Chip Cookie 1 Cookie /(3 oz) 435 
Oatmeal Cookie1 Cookie /(3 oz)408 
Sugar Cookie 1 Cookie /(3 oz)450 
Peanut Butter Cookie1 Cookie/ (3 oz) 408 
Sees CandyAssorted Chocolates /2 pieces 165 
Soofganiyot Hanukkah Doughnuts1 Piece287 

Portion Sizes & Calories for Thanksgiving Drinks

Food Item Serving Size (oz) Calories (kcal)
Apple Cider 1/2 cup60
Sangria 4 oz 150 
Eggnog 1 cup (8 oz)360 
Red Wine4 oz90
White Wine4 oz 90
Champagne4 oz90
Beer12 oz170 
Light Beer 12 oz 90
Hard Liquor1.5 oz 90 

What to Do After Thanksgiving Day

On the day after Thanksgiving, some people feel guilty for their food choices, and think they ate too much. Remember, one meal can’t completely turn your weight loss efforts around. Take the time to reflect on how the day went – the positives and how you felt about your food choices, then move forward with motivation to keep working towards your goals.

If you can get back to the habits you formed with building a balanced plate, staying active, and making sure to optimize your intake of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and quality carbohydrates, you’ll feel more confident in these situations in the future.

Final Thoughts for Healthy Thanksgiving Tips

Enjoy this wonderful day, and don’t forget the simple 10 healthy Thanksgiving tips as your guidelines. Have a happy and relaxing Thanksgiving, enjoy some time with friends and family, and take some time out for yourself if you can.  Make it a wonderful holiday!

If you feel like you need a little extra accountability during the holidays or want to start the New Year on the right foot, I offer a customized weight loss program that can be tailored just for you!

happy thanksgiving

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