How to Eat Deliciously and Healthily on Thanksgiving Day

meat-569073_1920To Feast or Not to Feast?

You’re probably tired of hearing the old adage “everything in moderation” around Thanksgiving.

We’re all gearing up for a delicious meal with our family and friends. Turkey, stuffing, green bean casseroles, pumpkin pie, and much more are on our minds. As we prepare (or devour) our favorite Thanksgiving foods, we may sometimes sacrifice health for taste. Unfortunately, “the more butter, the better” is often the motto when it comes to holiday celebrations.

And while occasional indulgence won’t do any serious harm, there is real danger around the holidays. Case in point: the average person consumes 4,500 calories in a holiday gathering and can eat enough fat to equal three sticks of butter! This is particularly alarming considering that Thanksgiving dinner often signals the beginning of a months-long season of holiday eating. The food is delicious, but it can have detrimental effects to our health if eaten in excess.

Rethinking Thanksgiving

But perhaps our mindset is more important than the catchword “moderation,” and a slight change in how we approach our holiday could make a big difference for our eating habits. After all, holiday gatherings have many important and joyful elements to them that don’t involve food. We are gathering together and can be grateful for each other’s company. We can bring our attention to the conversation at hand. We can see that it’s a beautiful fall day and take a quick walk around the neighborhood. All of these actions might make moderation possible without actually having to use our willpower to accomplish it.

But What about the Food?

Despite our best intentions, feasting may be too hard to resist. Maybe you’re making plans in anticipation of an indulgent Thanksgiving holiday, or maybe you’ve already surrendered to all the rich, delicious foods. Thanksgiving dinner comes only once a year, after all. With the onslaught of pie, mashed potatoes and gravy, and other rich treats, are there any redeeming qualities in these seemingly decadent foods? Here are a few surprises:

  • Turkey has a good dose of antioxidants and is a good source of omega-3s. If you buy pasture-raised turkey, the health benefits increase even more. Turkey is also a wonderful source of Vitamin B, and research has linked turkey with the regulation of insulin levels. And of course, it is an incomparable source of protein in your Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Cranberry sauce is actually very healthy for your digestive tract—as long as there isn’t too much sugar in it. It is also a good source of vitamin C. It may even be worth it to bring these red berries into your everyday diet.
  • Red wine has been shown to contain many antioxidants and can be relatively healthy in moderation.
  • Canned pumpkin for your pie is often more concentrated than homemade pumpkin filling and offers a good amount of fiber and vitamin A. Be sure to stay away from the cans of pre-prepared pumpkin filling though, for they have large amounts of sugar that may outweigh the health benefits in this wonderful dessert.

So when it comes to that giant piece of pie you’re wanting—hopefully you don’t feel too much guilt about it. When Thanksgiving comes around, there are many things to look forward to. With the right attitude and an eye for making healthier choices, we don’t need to waste too much energy resisting all of our favorite foods.


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