Thanksgiving's 7 Diet-Unfriendly Dishes


Often going from the turkey's insides to ours, stuffing may be the number one culprit behind holiday weight gain.

Stuffing can be so unhealthy that Keith-Thomas Ayoob, an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, devoted an entire column to discussing its potential downsides.

"There's also no better name for this dish," he wrote. "First, it stuffs the bird, then it stuffs our bellies, then it stuffs our thighs. A culinary trifecta if there ever was one."

"Stuffing is often the most calorically expensive side dish you'd ever imagine," Ayoob wrote. He said fattier versions can contain up to 500 calories per serving.

He included a number of suggestions for a healthier stuffing, including leaving out the meat, using chicken stock (adding it slowly) instead of fat, putting small amounts of butter on the surface of the stuffing before cooking, using regular bread in place of corn bread, and adding vegetables like celery, onions, apples or pears to the dish.

One other way to make stuffing healthier is not to stuff it into the turkey. It's leaner if cooked separately.

And one of his suggestions, for those who cannot do without stuffing and can't control how it's made, is to treat stuffing like dessert, since it has the calories of one.

"Save the best for last," wrote Ayoob. "Before you dive into that single portion of tasty but calorie-laden stuffing, hit the turkey breast and veggies first."


Whether sweet, mashed or baked, potatoes are a fixture at virtually every Thanksgiving dinner, but some varieties are far better for losing weight or keeping it off than others.

"When you eat a potato, you're actually getting more sugar, more glucose, than if you ate table sugar," said Klauer.

The reason, she explained, is that table sugar, or sucrose, is roughly half fructose and half glucose, while potatoes have a much higher concentration of glucose, which goes directly into the bloodstream when ingested.

Take it easy on the portions, she said -- large amounts will increase blood sugar.

"What you want to do is don't have a whole lot of potatoes," said Klauer.

She also recommended sweet potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes, because they don't need as much added for flavoring.

"If one is making sweet potatoes, you don't need a lot of stuff with it," said Klauer, noting that they are high in vitamin A as well.

She suggested cinnamon and ginger as healthy flavorings.

"What I would not suggest people do is put marshmallows on top," she said.

When it comes to mashed potatoes, "What I would suggest, when you make the mashed potatoes, is make the Yukon Gold potatoes and use fat-free buttermilk," said Klauer. "They're very light and airy."

For those willing to go a little more off the traditional Thanksgiving menu, Klauer recommended substituting quinoa for potatoes, as it can be made with herbs into a very filling dish.


Vegetables are always recommended as a healthy part of a balanced diet, but that doesn't mean that any dish with vegetables is a healthy one.

Dishes that include vegetables can also include heavy amounts of cream or butter for flavoring, adding copious amounts of fat to the vitamins and minerals.

"When one does that, either with canned soups or too much cream or butter, what you're doing is defeating the benefit that the vegetable has to your body," said Klauer.

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