The average American gains 1 to 2 pounds during the holiday season, according to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine. No one wants to avoid all of the calorie-packed favorites, but choosing Thanksgiving dishes that also provide a few nutritional benefits will help keep your waistline in check.
Say 'Thanks' to sweet potatoes —
Lucky for many sweet potato lovers, this spud has a reasonable number of calories (sans marshmallows) while delivering a ton of nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C and iron. Eating sweet potatoes regularly can also help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women by 25%, according to a study by Harvard Medical School.
Say 'No thanks' to stuffing —
Do you know what goes into stuffing? We can tell you -- loads of butter and plenty of assorted high-fat meats. One scoop can have up to 550 calories. Instead, replace the butter with low-sodium chicken broth. Then your stuffing won't leave you feeling as, well... stuffed.
Say 'Thanks' to turkey —
This Thanksgiving staple is naturally low in fat and contains vitamin B, zinc and potassium, which all help keep blood cholesterol levels down and protect against cancer and heart disease. Aside from being an excellent source of protein, studies show that turkey can also boost the immune system and aid in healing processes. Gobble up!
Say 'No thanks' to gravy —
Although gravy is the glue that ties the Thanksgiving meal together, it is often made with the drippings from cooked meats and contains nothing but fat. Studies show that it provides little nutritional value, merely adding calories to everything it touches.
Say 'Thanks' to green beans —
Green beans alone are one of the healthiest Thanksgiving foods. Research shows that they are an excellent source of vitamin C and antioxidants. But be careful with green bean casseroles -- adding canned soup, butter and cream can bring an extra 200 to 300 calories and should have you saying "No thanks" instead.
Say 'No thanks' to dinner rolls —
A hot, buttery dinner roll may be tempting -- and let's be honest, you'll want more than one -- but fight the temptation and escape from hundreds of calories. Choose your carbs carefully by looking for whole grains; many premade rolls are highly processed, which should only make your decision to say "No thanks" easier.
Say 'Thanks' to pumpkin pie —
Pumpkin is a good source of fiber and vitamin A and promotes healthy vision, mucus membranes and skin. That said, say your thanks and cut yourself a slice of pumpkin pie. It is the holidays after all!
Say 'No thanks' to pecan pie —
Although pecans themselves are good for the heart, plop them in a pie and you could eat more 500 calories and 27 grams of fat in a single slice. Holidays are made for indulgence, but after a typical Thanksgiving meal, the last thing you should do is to top it off with a high-calorie dessert like this.