Thanksgiving comes but once a year, so this is your one chance to throw caution to the wind, right? Wrong! The average Americans consumes about 4,500 calories at Thanksgiving dinner, according to the Calorie Control Council. That's more than two days' worth of food in one meal! Splurging is one thing, but gluttony is another. We've rounded up serving sizes you should aim for on Turkey Day in order to avoid the elastic waistband aftermath.
Turkey: The delicious smells wafting from your oven all day long will tempt you to gorge yourself on the succulent, moist turkey the minute it comes out of the oven. As hard as it will be to hold back, a four-ounce serving of lean meat should do the trick! It's roughly the size of a deck of cards and has 32 grams of protein, which is more than half of your recommended daily value. Avoid the skin and fatty pieces to get a full bang for your buck!
Gravy: All aboard the gravy train! Except not, because gravy has a ton of sodium and fat. Keep your helping to a quarter cup, or the size of a golf ball.
Cranberry sauce: While cranberry sauce is full of vitamin C and contains antioxidants, it also contains lots of sugar. To keep that unnecessary sugar intake to a minimum, limit your cranberry sauce helping to half a cup, or the size of a spool of thread. Opt for recipes that contain no added sugar to avoid the empty calories.
>> Try our Cranberry Apple Relish (pictured below)!
Dinner roll: Obviously, dinner rolls are full of carbs, but if you choose a whole-wheat roll that's roughly the size of a tennis ball, you can get away with it. Plus, it's full of B vitamins and fiber to keep you fuller longer.
Sweet potato casserole: While this holiday favorite contains lots of vitamin A, calcium and iron, it also contains lots of sugars, sodium and fat. And that's not even counting the marshmallows! Eat about half a cup of this scrumptious side dish-turned-dessert to avoid a stomachache later. That's about the same size as a scoop of ice cream, which also sounds delicious.
>> Mix it up by serving these Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes instead! [VIDEO below]
Mashed potatoes: Did you know the United States Department of Agriculture recommends only three cups of starchy veggies per week? And mashed potatoes are the epitome of starchy vegetables. Help yourself to half a cup to avoid the extra fat, carbs and sodium loaded in there, which is roughly the same size as a roll of Scotch tape.
>> Recipe: Skinny Mashed Cauliflower
Brussels sprouts: Talk about nutritious! Half a cup of Brussels sprouts will give you tons of vitamins A, C and K, as well as vitamin B6, folate, potassium, manganese and dietary fiber. All you'll have to watch out for is Brussels sprouts cooked with butter, cheese, or lots of oil. A good visual for these is a small handful of them! Try our Balsamic Orange Brussels Sprouts below:
Stuffing: Did you know "stuffing" is just another word for "carbs?" Keep it to half-cup servings, or the size of a bar of soap. We're seeing a carb pattern in this Thanksgiving spread. Check out our low-carb Thanksgiving dinner menu!
>> Lighten it up with our Whole-Wheat Herb Stuffing! [VIDEO below]
Corn bread: This southern favorite may be making its way toward a Thanksgiving table near you. One piece of corn bread has a quarter of the sodium you need for the entire day, and it's normally pretty high in fats and carbs as well. Keep it to the size of a combination lock and you're good to go!
>> Recipe: Skinny Corn Casserole (pictured below)
Pumpkin pie: What would Thanksgiving be without a pumpkin pie? It contains 50 percent of your daily intake of vitamin A, and also contains high amounts of vitamin K, calcium and iron. However, even a small piece contains 160 calories, 13 grams of sugar and seven grams of fat, so you'll want to eat it in moderation. Snatch up the small slice that's the same size as a lightbulb.
>> Try our Skinny Pumpkin Pie and save calories! [VIDEO below]
>> Read more: 11 Healthy Thanksgiving Desserts