Top Five Worst Thanksgiving Foods

Top Five Worst Thanksgiving Foods

A list of five terribly unhealthy foods to go easy on this Thanksgiving.

Turkey day is almost here, dudes.

The average person eats 4300 calories and 229g of fat on Thanksgiving Day. That’s enough for 2+ days for many of us. To burn that off, think about this: as a 125lb girl, you would have to run 42 miles (at 7mi/h) or jump rope for 7 hrs straight. As a 200lb guy, you could lift weights for 15 hours, or, maybe you’ll enjoy this more, engage in moderate sexual activity for 30 HOURS. Yeah, good luck finding a girl who’s down for that.

Turkey gets a bad rap for making you tired because it contains an amino acid called tryptophan, a precursor to sleep related hormones serotonin and melatonin. But turkey has less tryptophan than chicken or red meat, and must be had on a totally empty stomach to have any snooze-inducing effect. So don’t lie to yourself, it’s not the turkey that’s making you sleepy. It’s more likely that you overeat everything in sight, especially all those carbohydrate-heavy foods like potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and dessert. Add in a few glasses of alcohol and a boring dinner convo (or boring football game) and of course you’re going to need a nap. So here’s a list of the Top 5 Thanksgiving dishes to skip the seconds and thirds on:

1. Cranberry Sauce:
The sugar and high fructose corn syrup from ½ cup of can processed, jellied, cranberry sauce will set you back 200 calories. If someone at your party made the real deal cranberry sauce from scratch, go for that instead, or have a tablespoon or two (of the canned version) and save the rest of that sweetness for dessert.

2. Candied Yams:
Sweet potatoes are a totally healthy food, until you top them with brown sugar and/or maple syrup, a few sticks of butter, and bags of marshmallows. 1 cup can have over 400 calories, so just make sure every bite is worth the extra minutes on the treadmill.

3. Stuffing:
Before you quit reading, just remember that this is an Eat-Less list, not an Avoid-Completely list. Stuffing is made of white bread with tons of butter, a few veggies, apples, and raisins, averaging 400 calories per cup. If you add gravy, or it’s cooked inside the turkey, it’ll soak up all the fat drippings and be even higher in calories. If I’ve learned anything at holiday dinners, it’s this: where there are women, there are usually lower fat or vegetarian versions. See what other variations of stuffing are around, or keep it to one cup, tops.

4. Mashed Potatoes and Gravy:
Potatoes aren’t the enemy, but the massive amounts of butter and cream in them are. A cup can reach upwards of 300 calories. Making matters worse, a tablespoon of gravy can have 60 calories – which means that a ladle can hold up to 800! Brutal. Gravy is made from the bird drippings (lovely) and is then thickened with flour and lots of butter. So think twice before drenching your plate in it.

5. Pies:
Thanksgiving isn’t complete without a little dessert action, but be careful about which one you pick, and more importantly, be careful of the serving size. A big slice of pumpkin or pecan pie can set you back 400 calories. Topped with whipped cream or ice cream and we’re talking 500-600 calories. Instead, cut a small slice or even a sliver of each kind and savor every bite.

Here’s the thing about Thanksgiving: it’s only one day a year and you deserve to indulge a little. Fat loss and weight loss can be placed on hold for a day. But when the cougar-y host wraps up a leftover pie and sends it home with you, it’s not actually because you’re so charming, it’s because she’d rather have you get fat instead of her. Just being honest.

But before you start to think of everyone at your Thanksgiving party as a six pack sabotager, remember that you do have a little thing called self-control. You don’t have to eat every single side dish. If you’re saying, “yes, you idiot, of course I do”, no one is forcing you to eat multiple plates. The only reward you’ll get for being in the clean plate club is a food coma and a stomach ache. Happy Thanksgiving, freaks.

References:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fact-or-fiction-does-turkey-make-you-sleepy
http://www.internetfitness.com/calculators/calburncalc.htm
http://health.discovery.com/centers/cholesterol/activity/activity.html
 

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About the Author

Carolyn is a Nutritionist/Registered Dietitian and has her masters in Clinical Nutrition from NYU. She went to Tulane in New Orleans for undergrad, spent 3 months traveling around the world on Semester at Sea and then swung through Boulder, CO before landing in her current home of NYC. Carolyn has a blog called One Smart Brownie (www.onesmartbrownie.com) to simplify healthy eating for those who don’t spend their lives studying nutrition. Her favorite hobbies include getting new stamps on her passport and telling yo mama jokes, and she says that if she were to have a crush on a food it would be chocolate biscotti, no questions asked.