By Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD

It’s happened to all of us at some point – we happily indulge in all that Thanksgiving has to offer, but the next day we’re really paying for it. Not only do we feel sluggish and bloated, the scale can easily shoot up five-plus pounds, literally overnight.

Why, then, does the number on the scale jump up after a big holiday dinner?

The main culprit is fluid retention, thanks to a greater-than-usual intake of carbs and sodium.  This isn’t a pass for sheer excess, however; it’s still wise to minimize the potential nutritional damage of the holidays.

Fortunately, a few Thanksgiving favorites (namely turkey, ham, and roasted veggies) are naturally low in calories, carbs, and saturated fat.  And with a few key ingredient swaps, you can make lighter versions of almost any high-calorie dish.

Thanksgiving Meal Swaps

Choose: Glass of wine (5 ounces)

Instead of: Eggnog (8 ounces)

Save: 280 calories


Choose: Shrimp cocktail appetizer (1/2 cup)

Instead of: Candied pecans, 1/2 cup

Save: 388 calories


Choose: Grilled vegetables (1 cup)

with Greek yogurt Ranch dip (4 tablespoons)

Instead of: Cheese (1 ounce) and crackers (one serving)

Save: 150 calories


Choose: Skinless turkey breast (6 ounces)

Instead of: Roasted turkey, dark meat,

with skin (6 ounces)

Save: 144 calories


Choose: Green bean casserole made with low-fat cream of mushroom soup (1 cup)

Instead of: Homemade macaroni & cheese (1 cup)

Save: 334 calories


Choose: Whipped cauliflower (1 cup)

Instead of: Cornbread dressing (1 cup)

Save: 315 calories


Choose: Small baked sweet potato

Instead of: Sweet potato casserole

Save: 164 calories


Choose: Dinner roll with pat of butter

Instead of: Oyster dressing (one cup)

Save: 200 calories


Choose: Slice of pumpkin pie

Instead of: Slice of pecan pie

Save: 218 calories


But keep in mind that Thanksgiving is a time for celebrating, so by all means, indulge in your seasonal favorites.   After all, if we eat healthfully most of the time, we can afford to treat ourselves from time to time…  Just be sure that your splurges are well-chosen, and really worth it, and get right back on track the next day, for example:

Next Day Leftovers

Choose: Make a leftover turkey wrap using 1 La Tortilla Factory Low Carb High Fiber tortillas

Instead of: Two slices of bread

Save: 100 calories