As massive amounts of turkey, ham, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, green bean casserole and more tempt our taste buds at Thanksgiving here in the QCA, with even more holiday-eating on the horizon, are you worried about making health-conscious decisions for what you’re putting on your plate? How can you make sure you’re burning off your holiday indulgences?

In general, how are residents in the QCA doing? Statewide, Illinois and Iowa seem to be faring very differently going into the holiday season. In a report posted by Life Extension, Illinois ranks as #7 for best holiday health, whereas Iowa is #37 on that list. According to the report:

(They) analyzed eight key metrics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spanning nutrition, exercise, smoking and mental health. The results show that while Americans in some states keep up their healthy habits year-round, others are less likely to do so – and therefore, more at risk for heart disease and mental health issues.

Life Extension
(courtesy of Life Extension)

According to a report from KURU, here are the serving sizes, calories and fat of some favorite Thanksgiving foods and the number of steps required to burn off each food consumed:


Food ItemServing SizeCaloriesFat (Grams)Steps to Burn
Cheese Ball (w/nuts)2 Tbsp24620g5515
Potato Chips1 oz. (10 chips)15010g3363
Apple Cider1 cup1170g2623
Butter1 Tbsp.10211g2287
Olives (green)1/2 cup778g1726
Ranch Dip2 Tbsp706g1569
Raw Vegetables1 cup200g448


Food ItemServing SizeCaloriesFat (Grams)Steps to Burn
Stuffing (Bread)1 cup35517g7958
Cranberry/Walnut Salad1 cup34812g7801
Sweet Potato Casserole1 cup2766g6187
Mashed Potato1 cup2388g5335
Cranberry Sauce1/2 cup2090g4685
Roasted Turkey (no skin)4 slices (4 oz.)1906g4259
Giblet Gravy (w/milk and flour)1/2 cup17813g3990
Green Bean Casserole1 cup1438g3205
Dinner Rolls1861g1928


Food ItemServing SizeCaloriesFat (Grams)Steps to Burn
Pumpkin Pie1/8 of 9″ pie32315g7241
Whipped Cream2 Tbsp10311g2309

According to the report:

If you wanted to walk off your entire Thanksgiving meal, it’d take a staggering 76,397 to do it. The number of steps in a mile varies by person, but using an average 2 miles for every 5,000 steps that would be more than 30 miles of walking! 

KURU Footwear

Realistically, how are you going to get in that much walking and exercise to burn the whole meal off? Dr. Teresa Pangan, Strategic Community Outreach for Cancer and Heart for UnityPoint Health, said the important factors are really what you do the days before and after those holiday meals. “Thanksgiving should not be about trying to maintain healthy habits on the day,” Pangan said. “The mindset is actually the bigger piece. You need to get back into your healthy habits as soon as possible the next day.”

Dr. Pangan also stressed the importance of not skipping meals, using smaller plates to encourage smaller portions and calorie-cutting by about 22% and cutting corners where you can. Adding greens to your plate, cutting back on the stuffing and pie crust and swapping out vegetable casseroles for the vegetables on their own.

Once the holidays are all said and done, UnityPoint Health will be featuring free Cooking with Heart classes to help you kick off 2023 with the right approach to food. UnityPoint Health – Trinity will offer three different series to help you transition to healthier eating.

Each series focuses around a Mediterranean and plant-focused eating pattern. All of the series feature step-by-step instructions for several delicious recipes, teach you how to tailor recipes to your own taste preferences and give you valuable tips on how to get meals on the table in 15 minutes or less.

Eating is meant to be enjoyable. To stick to healthy eating, it must be delicious and fun. Class participants are amazed are how much they enjoy the course and how they go away with so many doable and tasty ideas for health.

UnityPoint Health

For more information on the series, click here.