5 Top Swaps for Thanksgiving Dinner

Search Google images for photos of "obese Pilgrims," and you'll come up empty.

That's because, unlike us, our ancestors didn't struggle to control their weight. (Well, that and the fact that they didn't have cameras.)

Our forebears stayed naturally lean, and believe me, they weren't dieting: They enjoyed a hearty feast as much as we do. But the "traditional" food we eat on this holiday bears almost no resemblance to what the Pilgrims ate during theirs. When they sat around the dining table in their bonnets and cockle hats, they weren't scraping mayonnaise-based casseroles from Pyrex dishes or passing around sticky slices of pecan pie glued together with corn syrup. More likely, they were eating lean game meats and whatever vegetables they'd recently harvested. They ate real food, in other words—and as a result, they stayed real lean.

Now, I'm not saying you need to go out and hunt elk with a musket. But if you want to walk away from this holiday feast without looking like you've been stuffed, you need a few smart strategies. And I've got them. The swaps presented here are the same kind of simple, painless upgrades that have helped thousands of Eat This, Not That! readers literally lose tons of weight— like Nichole Storms, who lost 130 pounds in just one year. Storms tried to eat well, so she followed whatever nutrition tips she picked up from friends and family. Problem was: "Everything that everyone told me was completely wrong." Now, when people ask her how she dropped nearly half her body weight, she tells them it was simple: She finally learned how to eat.

With that in mind, here are five simple swaps for Thanksgiving dinner, courtesy of the all-new Eat This, Not That! 2012. Choose smartly and you'll still walk away from the table satisfied—but with 1,200 fewer calories in your belly. Make the same swaps when you reheat the leftovers, and you'll actually start shedding pounds this holiday season!

1. YOUR STARCHY SIDE DISH
Eat This!
Roasted Potatoes (1 cup)
115 calories
0 g fat (0 g saturated)
12 mg sodium

Not That!
Turkey Stuffing (1 cup)
350 calories
28 g fat (12 g saturated)
840 mg sodium

YOU SAVE: 235 calories!

Stuffing is the edible equivalent of a sponge, slurping up all the butter or turkey fat it encounters. That's why the numbers on that Stove Top package are so deceptively conservative; they don't reflect the fat-riddled nature of the finished product. Stick with roasted potatoes instead and save yourself the calorie equivalent of a third-pound of lean turkey!

SHOCKING SIDES: Side dishes have the ability to sink a meal. Limit the damage by choosing wisely and avoiding the 10 Worst Side Dishes in America. And for even more helpful tricks to keep your belly flat through the year's most fattening season, follow me on Twitter. 

NEXT: Calorie-Saving Vegetable >>

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