Is a Thanksgiving Dinner Really 4,500 Calories?

It's still probably going to be a lot

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A 6-oz. serving of turkey (with skin) will only cost you 299 calories

Here’s something to be grateful for on Thanksgiving: your daylong holiday binge may not be as disastrously calorific as you thought.

According to the Calorie Control Council, during the state-sanctioned gorging event known as Thanksgiving, the average American can stuff down as much as 4,500 calories — nearly twice the recommended daily allowance.

(MORE: Deep-Fried Stuffing on a Stick: The Food Network’s Oddest Holiday Recipes)

The New York Times’ Tara Parker-Pope wanted to test out this theory. So she created a virtual Thanksgiving feast that would sate even the most voracious eater. Using online counters, she tallied up the calories for each serving. Here’s her menu:

6 oz. of turkey, with skin: 299 calories
sausage stuffing: 310 calories
dinner roll and butter: 310 calories
sweet-potato casserole: 300 calories
mashed potatoes and gravy: 140 calories
green-bean casserole: 110 calories
cranberry sauce: 15 calories
brussels sprouts: 83 calories
pumpkin pie: 316 calories
pecan pie: 503 calories
whipped cream: 100 calories

total: 2,486 calories

Parker-Pope says you could push your calorie count higher by downing a few glasses of wine or predinner snacks (or, adds NewsFeed, by using a Paula Deen cookbook). But at some point, the body just says no: “After about 1,500 calories in one sitting, the gut releases a hormone that causes nausea,” she writes.

Still, it may be possible to overcome your gut reflexes and stuff like a champ. You can stretch your stomach’s capacity (normally about 8 cups) by regularly overeating over time, according to Lawrence Kosinski, committee chairman of the American Gastroenterological Association, who spoke with the New York Times last year. But, with U.S. obesity rates set to reach 50% by 2030, many of us seem to be working on that already.

MORE: Thanksgiving Was Meant to be a Fast: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Turkey Day

2 comments
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JuanOskarJayMaynes
JuanOskarJayMaynes

On Thanksgiving and Christmas my food intake is primarily, turkey, roll, salad, and some apple or pumpkin pie.  It's all the BEER I drink before and after.  Then I may have to wash the beer down with some wine and vodka.  Most people don't eat brussels sprouts on holidays, it's BOOZE!  :D   Peace amigos.......................JO

davidjefferson33
davidjefferson33

I don't know about anyone else, but the quantities listed seem completely off to me. One roll? I end up eating three. Cranberry sauce? a quarter cup goes on my plate, containing a lot more than 15 calories. As for pie, we make pumpkin, sweet potato, and apple, and I have a slice of each with ice cream. 

inb4 I'm fat, my BMI is 20.8. If we're going to celebrate gluttony, I'm going to do it right.