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Your Thanksgiving calorie guide is here!

November 10, 2011|By Rosie Mestel, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • We challenge you to come up with a satisfying 500-calorie or 700-calorie Thanksgiving meal with the help of this guide from the University of Texas.
We challenge you to come up with a satisfying 500-calorie or 700-calorie… (University of Texas MD Anderson…)

With Thanksgiving coming up, our mailboxes are steadily filling with health-related Thanksgiving items.

Helpful tips on how not to gorge on that day!

Reminders that turkey is a healthful food and that soy is for Thanksgiving too!  

Possibly the most fanciful so far is a guide from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center announcing its new Thanksgiving serving size infographic, which we all can use this Turkey Day. It notes that men in general need about 2,000 calories a day and women about 1,500 calories a day – and therefore one’s Thanksgiving meal should be one-third of that, assuming we eat three meals a day.

In other words, they say, women should aim for a Thanksgiving meal consisting of 500 calories and men for one consisting of 700 calories.

The graphic lays out your options with serving sizes and calorie counts so you can choose what you want, add the numbers and make sure you don’t exceed your limit.

Let's have a go.

If I have one light bulb-sized slice of pumpkin pie at 323 calories, that leaves me 177 calories. I could add a serving of white-meat turkey the size of a deck of cards at 132 calories, leaving me with 45 calories. For that, I can get a golf ball-sized serving of gravy (50 calories). Presto, that’s my meal!

Alternatively, I could forget about the pie (which I don’t really care for) and have a cup of mashed potatoes (290 calories), the turkey (132 calories)  and a quarter-cup of gravy (50 calories) and round it all out with a cup of broccoli, whose calories the site doesn’t list but surely they can’t be very much.

Or! I can forget the turkey, forget the pie and just eat the best bits:  half a cup of mashed potatoes (145 calories) and a half-cup of stuffing (180 calories) moistened with a golfball-sized portion of gravy (50 calories). Plus a cup or so of broccoli and a quarter-cup of cranberry sauce (105 calories).

I agree that this graphic is an eye-opener, and my prejudice against pumpkin pie has only grown from perusing it, but I seriously wonder who other than a serious dieter is going to try for a 500-calorie Thanksgiving meal. “Remember, if you do indulge a little on Thanksgiving Day, make sure you return to eating balanced, healthy meals the next day,” says Mary Ellen Herndon, a wellness dietitian at MD Anderson, perhaps acknowledging the same sneaking suspicion.

A better bet, I’d think, is to save your main eating that day for the meal (isn't this what people do?) and get rid of all of the leftovers so that Thanksgiving doesn’t last all week.

You can read more health-related items by visiting the Booster Shots blog.

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