How many calories will the average American eat on Thanksgiving?

Counting calories?

In case you’re wondering how much that extra piece of pumpkin pie will cost you in the gym on Friday, here are the approximate calorie counts for a few Thanksgiving favorites:

4 oz. of dark meat turkey: 323

Slice of pumpkin pie: 316

1/2 cup of candied yams: 210

1/2 cup of stuffing: 190

Glass of wine: 84

Small dinner roll: 87

1/2 cup of green bean casserole: 75

Slice of pecan pie: 503

1/4 cup gravy: 50

1 cup mashed potatoes: 190


Without knowing plate size, portion size or if you plan to circle back for seconds (or thirds), it’s hard to say.

But maybe the more important question is who cares? Or does it matter?

“No. We don’t need to worry about one meal,” said Debbie Petitpain, a dietitian at the Medical University of South Carolina.

“The problem is pretty much from Halloween to New Year’s it’s really more of an eating season,” Petitpain said. “You wake up on Jan. 1 with five extra pounds that are a lot harder to get off than you might think.”

MUSC held its fourth annual Healthy Holiday Live! on Friday outside in its Urban Farm on the corner of Bee and President streets. The event included several cooking demonstrations featuring ways to prepare a healthier and budget-friendly holiday feast.

For example, at-home cooks can save calories and cash by swapping out a whole roast turkey for boneless, skinless pan-seared turkey cutlets topped with a corn and bean relish.

“It looks a lot like a chicken breast,” said MUSC Executive Chef Brett Cunningham.

But lime juice and cilantro — two good-for-you ingredients included in this recipe — don’t exactly scream Thanksgiving. What about the butter? The brown gravy? The mashed potatoes?

“The Thanksgiving meal is typically the big carb fest,” said Susan Johnson, MUSC’s director of health promotion who organized the Healthy Holiday demonstration. “For me, those are like my favorite things. I love all the starches, but that can wreak havoc on someone who needs to keep that under control.”

Johnson agreed with Petitpain that it’s OK for most people to overindulge on one day. Otherwise, “seasonal creep” sets in.

“It could be anywhere from one to five pounds,” Johnson said. “A lot of people do that — they say, ‘I’ll just worry about it Jan. 1.’ But if you just make some really simple changes leading up to it, you don’t have to worry about it.”

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.