5 Steps to Make it Through Thanksgiving Without Fat-Free Products

Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD

Title: Founding Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

For those struggling to maintain a healthy weight, Thanksgiving dinner can be one of the toughest meals of the year. In many families, a typical turkey dinner with all the fixings can add up to more than 3,000 calories!

Thanksgiving Without Fat-Free Products

In my book Go UnDiet, I share 50 easy-to-follow strategies to help readers change eating habits without following a rigid diet plan. One of the 50 small actions is Action #9: Un-Fat-Free, which means staying away from fat-free products. That’s because fat-free diet products bear little resemblance to the real thing and are filled with additives.

It’s unreasonable to try to avoid festive eating altogether, but you can limit the damage to your waistline by making the healthiest choices when planning your Thanksgiving meal – without using any fat-free diet products.

5 Small Actions to Prepare a Healthy Thanksgiving Meal

Take advantage of buttermilk

Mashed potatoes are usually made with heavy cream and butter. Try using buttermilk instead of cream, and use half the butter you normally use. You’ll be surprised how similar they taste. Calories saved: about 90.

Tackle the sugar issue

Yes, you can still serve dessert! Try substituting unsweetened applesauce or pureed prunes for half the sugar in your baking recipes. Indeed, for most non-crust recipes, you can cut the sugar by half without significantly affecting the outcome. Calories  saved: about 90.

Try a different kind of whip

Cutting whipped cream from a holiday meal seems a bit cruel,  but this tasty topping is loaded with fat. Try making your own whipped cream using evaporated milk instead. It offers a similar taste and texture without the fat and guilt. Calories saved per 2 Tbsp serving: 60.

Go skinless

It’s not a holiday meal without the turkey! And believe it or not, turkey is actually a healthy item on your holiday menu. It’s an excellent source of protein, and has the least amount of fat per serving among all meats, if you pass on the skin. I don’t usually recommend skipping the skin, but if you’d rather save some room for other traditional Thanksgiving goodies, skin is the easiest thing to pass up. Calories saved: 45-63.

Let’s toast

Instead of eggnog, serve champagne or sparkling wine. Calories saved per serving: 100.

The Bottom Line

With planning, you can cut loads of fat and close to 400 calories from your holiday meal – and still make it seem like a feast!


grocery aisle, seasonal celebrations, Thanksgiving, turkey


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