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How Many Calories Are in Thanksgiving Dinner? (Um, Brace Yourself)

While we all prepare ourselves (and our stretch pants) for the smorgasbord of food we’ll be faced with on America’s fattest holiday, we weren’t quite ready to see the actual calorie count. Let’s face it: We know Thanksgiving is more than just a simple cheat day — but how much more?

According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American will consume more than 4500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day alone — and you know you’ll be helping yourself to leftovers for at least a few days post-holiday. (Hello, turkey and stuffing sandwich heaven.)

How are 4500 calories in one day humanly possible, you ask? Well, let’s break it down dish by dish.


6 ounces of this delicious bird adds up to roughly 300 calories. Remember that dark meat brings more to the plate (calorically speaking) than white meat, so that’s an easy way to cut a few right there. Adding gravy though? Add 60 more calories!

Who can skip the stuffing? A generous portion of sausage stuffing adds 310 calories easily. If you’re opting for the classic Stove Top Stuffing, 1 cup will cost you 140 calories.

Rolls With Butter
Prepare to go into a carb coma after dinner because you know you’ll be helping yourself to some warm rolls slathered in butter. And that’s fine. Just add a whopping 375 calories to your total intake.

Green Bean Casserole
Mmm, green bean casserole. This savory side isn’t too terrible: One cup ups your total by 165 calories.

Sweet Potatoes
Depending on how you dress up your sweet potatoes, this dish can be surprisingly light on the calorie load or the exact opposite. Be warned: The classic casserole topped with marshmallows and brown sugar packs 300 calories per serving.

Mashed Potatoes
This side in it’s simplest form, prepared with milk and butter added boasts 237 calories per serving. Don’t forget the gravy! Add another 60 calories per serving.

Cranberry Sauce
Not everyone indulges in this extra, but if you do, add 172 calories for two slices of this tangy topping.

Pumpkin Pie
It’s practically a sin to go through Thanksgiving without having at least one piece of pumpkin pie. So tack on another 316 calories for this dessert. Oh, and of course there’s whipped cream! That adds another 15 per serving.

We’re probably forgetting something along the way, but we simply can’t fit any more on our plates. So what’s our grand total? For just this meal alone we’re at roughly 2,350 calories. And while that’s quite a bit shy of the estimated 4,500 we haven’t even begun to think about actual portion size — not to mention breakfast, appetizers, snacks, beverages, seconds, oh my!

Either way, Thanksgiving is one day we’re going to get our gobble gobble on — save the calorie counting for New Year’s.

Source: Calorie Control Council, The NY Times, Calorie Count

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11.21.2012 / 04:57 AM EDT by Jana Moseley
Related: Moms

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