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Thanksgiving Food Substitutions For A Healthier Holiday

Thanksgiving food substitutions from Rachel Berman. The holiday season is upon us and so is the calorie counting season. Here are some delicious Thanksgiving food substitutions and alternatives to many high calorie/high fat holiday treats.

Rachel Berman, RD, CSR, CD/N, the Director of Nutrition for has sent us some examples of which foods we should ditch and offers some healthier, yummy solutions.


Thanksgiving Food Substitutions For A Healthier Holiday

Watch Out For – Eggnog (Calories: 343, Fat: 19 g per 1-cup serving)
Thanksgiving Food Substitution – Hot chocolate (no sugar added) (Calories: 60, Fat: 1g for one packet)
Why – Don’t gulp down your calories and fat with eggnog. Research shows we don’t register nutrients the same way from beverages than we would from food – so you’ll probably end up eating close to the same amount at holiday dinner even if you’ve had a couple of eggnogs before. Warm up to a prepackaged hot cocoa and add some lite whipped cream (15 cal/2 Tbs) for a treat post meal.

Watch Out For – White Russian (Calories: 412, Fat: 17 g per 6 oz serving)
Thanksgiving Food Substitution – “Light” Russian (Calories: 225, Fat: 0g per 6 oz serving)
Why – Make your own ‘Light’ Russian by subbing fat free milk or half and half for the full fat versions and save on artery clogging saturated fat.

Watch Out For – Cheese & crackers (Calories: 306, Fat: 16g per (2 ounce & 5 cracker serving)
Thanksgiving Food Substitution – Shrimp cocktail (Calories: 51, Fat: 0.4 g per 5 medium-sized shrimp with cocktail sauce)
Why – Cheese may be a great source of protein and calcium but the saturated fat content really adds up. Instead, choose a virtually non-fat shrimp cocktail for a light and decadent appetizer.

Watch Out For – Artichoke Dip (Calories: 100, Fat: 8g per serving of 2Tbs)
Thanksgiving Food Substitution – Turkey Meatballs w/ Hawaiian Sauce (Calories: 65, Fat: 1.4 g per serving).
Why – Artichoke dip can be dangerous because 1) who only eats 2 tablespoons? & 2) don’t forget about the chips it’s usually served with. Turkey meatballs are a great substitute because they are chockfull of lean protein, pre-portioned, and delicious.

Watch Out For – Green Bean Casserole (Calories: 309, Fat: 24.7 per one-cup serving)
Thanksgiving Food Substitution – Grilled asparagus spears (Calories: 84, Fat: 5.4 per six spears)
Why – Don’t be fooled by the greenery in the title, green bean casserole with fried onions can be an ominous side dish. Try simply grilled asparagus brushed with olive oil for the benefits of vitamins and minerals, without the excess fat.

Watch Out For – Scalloped Potatoes (Calories: 214, Fat: 9.8 g fat per 1 cup serving)
Thanksgiving Food Substitution – Mashed Potatoes (Calories: 109, Fat: 0.2g per 1 cup serving)
Why – Scalloped potatoes are loaded with calories and fat – so this holiday, opt for mashed potatoes that are seasoned with turkey broth, garlic – and any other fresh spices you like – for a delicious and healthy side dish. Leave the skins on the potatoes for a fiber boost!

Watch Out For – (Calories: 676, Fat: 40.8 g, Sugar: 39.4g per 129.5g per serving)
Thanksgiving Food Substitution – Pumpkin Pie (Calories: 161, Fat: 4.8g, Sugar: 15.2g per 129.5g per serving)
Why – Pecan pie is loaded with sugar – so take pride in serving pumpkin pie! Not only is it a holiday staple, it’s a relatively healthy dessert to serve when made with low fat evaporated milk. Plus, pumpkin is full of beta carotene – an antioxidant that promotes eye health and can help fight against heart disease and certain cancers.

Watch Out For – Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha with whipped cream (Calories: 410, Fat: 15g per 12-ounce beverage)
Thanksgiving Food Substitution – Pumpkin Spiced Latte made with skim milk, no whipped cream (Calories: 200, Fat: 0g, per 12-ounce beverage)
Why: Seasonal drinks can be very tempting. But without paying attention, your delicious holiday beverage can be equivalent to the calories in a meal with a significant amount of saturated fat from milk and cream. That doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun! Order a pumpkin spiced latte made with skim milk and skip the whipped cream for a nonfat treat with half the calories.

These Thanksgiving food substitutions are great ideas. Another tip is to take a brisk walk before your meals to keep your metabolism up for a day known for heavy eating!

Rachel Berman, RD, CSR, CD/N is the Director of Nutrition for Calorie Count, a free health and wellness website with over 3 million members. Rachel provides users with practical science-based information related to nutrition, weight loss and health.
Rachel has worked with various patient populations in the clinical setting for almost a decade. Most recently she was the dietitian for Columbia University’s Eating Disorder Day Program where she planned meals and provided nutritional counseling to individuals. In addition, Rachel is active in social media to promote credible health information on the internet.
Rachel is a member of the American Dietitian Association and is Board Certified in Renal Nutrition. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University and conducted her dietetic internship at North Shore LIJ Health System in Long Island, New York.

Visit the Calorie Count website for more Thanksgiving food substitutions.

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