By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Getting ready for the big Thanksgiving feast that usually includes about 4,500 calories for the average American. But there are some easy ways to make Thanksgiving not such a diet buster.

The science of making Thanksgiving a little more healthy involves a few strategic trades with ingredients and remembering the golden rule of moderation.

Like many, Eileen Butler is looking forward to family, friends and food on Thanksgiving.

“I like the stuffing, even though it’s so fattening and so bad, but it’s the one time of year where I say, ‘Okay, let’s have a little,'” Butler said.

The turkey and all the trimmings are traditionally loaded with calories and fat but there are ways to make the holiday healthier.

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First, with turkey, choose white meat without skin.

“One of the best things you can do is try to load up your plate with non-starchy vegetables like green beans, carrots, salads, roasted brussel sprouts and make sure you have a lot of color there,” Lindsay Malone, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic said.

Trading sweet potatoes for white potatoes, is more nutritious, and roasted vegetables instead of casseroled will save lots of calories. Using healthier fats like olive oil or plain yogurt instead of whole cream is also helpful, as well as substituting sugar with spices.

“If you’re used to the typical candied yams, perhaps you could bake your yams with some cinnamon and nutmeg and olive oil rather than the marshmallows and brown sugar,” Malone said.

And remember alcohol has a lot of empty calories. Also, eat slowly, it takes time for your stomach to tell the brain that it’s full.

For desserts, experts suggest using applesauce and other pureed fruits, instead of adding more butter and cream. And pumpkin pie is usually a better choice than pecan pie, which is made with corn syrup.

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