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(As published on TheTownDish.com, November, 2010)

Sweet potatoes? Yes please. Turkey? I'll take some dark meat. Mashed potatoes? Absolutely. Dinner roll? I'll take two. Green beans? Um, ok. Salad? Sure, why not.

Is this what you sound like at the thanksgiving table? Who doesn't, or at least doesn't want to? There are so many yummy offerings, how can you pass anything up? But for those who are watching the waist and/or trying to keep their head during all those holiday parties, there is a way to have it all... and some pie too.

Choosing WHAT and HOW MUCH to put on your plate makes a big difference. Let's look at two different scenarios. Plate 1, as shown in photo 1, has all of the thanksgiving essentials: turkey, stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes and green beans (the latter two accompanied by a dollop of butter - who can resist?). Plate 2 has all the same offerings with the added steamed carrots. The plates look different, of course, but both are still quite full and give you a taste of all your favorites.

Plate 1Plate 2

What you don't know is that plate 1 packs a punch of almost double the amount of calories of plate 2. So, what makes plate 2 so healthy? Well, the portions of stuffing, mashed potatoes and turkey are about half that of the other plate. The turkey is also white skinless turkey saving the additional fat that skin and dark meats carry. But less isn't always the key.

While you are giving up some plate room by reducing the carbs and meats, that room is being filled up with veggies. There is almost double the amount of cranberry sauce on the healthier plate - so, who says healthier can't be sweeter? There is also double the amount of veggies; this includes the addition of the carrots - variety is the spice of life, right?

But, don't forget about the condiments. By skipping the added butter on the green beans and mashed potatoes, you are saving over 200 calories. Also, because you lessened the amount of turkey, stuffing and potatoes, you lessened the amount of gravy that was poured over them as well.

Sooo, what do we do with these saved calories? Well, you can have some dessert! But be good... By choosing lighter desserts, like pumpkin pie, and having a reasonable portion, you can still come out on top and still not consume as many calories as you would if you opted for plate 1 without dessert.

What did we learn here? Well, we can have out thanksgiving dinner and eat it too! And still feel good about it.

Last Updated: 9/10/2012