Eat this: The Surprising Nutrition Behind Thanksgiving Food

Somewhere a nutrition cringed at this title. Maybe it’s the excess of portion sizes. Possibly, something being deep fried. The sugar. All the glorious sugar. A one day a year event brings terror to the ultra health conscious.

It shouldn’t.

This holiday- whether based on myth, actual accounts, or change of season- it stands still the same. It’s a feast to celebrate. Boy do we need a reason to celebrate this year. Whatever dishes you bring to the table, chances are you are eating nutrition without even considering it. Chew on that nutritionist. Much of what’s brought to Thanksgiving brings more than comfort. Vitamins and minerals in these dishes support our muscles, nerves, hearts, digestive system, and brains. Some plates may be more indulgent than others. That’s okay. Either way we will take a look in this two part series, at iconic American Thanksgiving dishes and how they bring health that is often covered up.

Turkey first…

Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova on

Our family leaves this one out. However, the children’s stories and iconic photos makes turkey the center. In white meat or dark meat, you gain a few things with this Thanksgiving centerpiece. Beyond the obvious high amounts of protein (eat that body builders)- turkey offers your body the post meal sleep in tryptophan. Actually, this may be a myth or power of suggestion. Your body does benefit as tryptophan is an amino acid, a nutrient. Plus, tryptophan can alleviate anxiety and promote better sleep. Yet, what’s in turkey isn’t potent enough to induce your after meal slumber.

Never feel guilty in an occasional extra helping of these iconic Thanksgiving starches. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams give fuel and to fuel the right microbiome in your gut. Eat this: Starches gives the full rundown on starches. Let me make this easy for you, those starches at the table provide fiber, vitamin C, a variety of B vitamins, manganese, and vitamin A. Rethink your multivitamins, just eat a freaking potato. On Thanksgiving, maybe two or three.

Photo by Ela Haney on

What is wrong with green beans?!! It might be the cream (fats and salts) or the fried onions (carbs) that lower the nutritional scale of green bean casserole. If it worries you that much, then create healthier versions of cream of mushroom. Or leave it out all together. You can air fry onions for that lovely crisp. If you’re no worried, savor each bite. Green beans do give some iron with generous helpings vitamin C, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. Just to name a few. The fats and salts do negate some the nutritional effect of green beans to some degree. So like the Cookie Monster makes cookies a sometimes food, so should the canned labeled recipe of green bean casserole be.

Cranberries get an undeserved bad rap with its canned self. Cooked from is au-natural version, cranberries contain vitamin C, manganese, copper, and antioxidants. Eat yourself young. Alongside the sauced side, is a stuffing loaded with carbs. If you’re the cook, you’ve earned those carbs. Actually, every should eat carbs. Stuffing not cooked in a turkey because lets not invited salmonella or ecoli to dinner, is actually good for you. Check out the spicier version of this series tomorrow for more, but celery is often in at stuffing recipe. From B6 to other B vitamins and vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, and potation, celery is a must at Thanksgiving. You thought it was just a flavor.

Can’t leave dessert out

Photo by Pixabay on

Pumpkin pie has vitamin C in it. The stuff that helps your gut absorb other nutrients and supports your immune system. Pumpkins are great for vitamins B1 and B6 along with potassium, folic acid, and niacin. Whipped cream just makes it better.

Why would a holistic nutritionist bother with the list of vitamins and minerals you could be eating at Thanksgiving? It’s about being whole. Guilt only makes digestion and your nervous system worse. Certainly, if there is a health concern such as heart disease or diabetes, this is the primary concern in Thanksgiving preparations. When higher amounts of sugars, fats, and salts are just a holiday vacation, lock guilt out. Along with the salad. Don’t even bother. Indulge for a day and savor the leftovers. Take a walk for your mental health and invite others for the company- not as a chore to counteract your meal. Know when you sit down, you are taking in food that does support you. Simply, because you have food and its nutrition helps your entire being.

Eat for you. Trash the guilt.


Published by JRiley

Certified holistic nutritionist, reiki master, and yogi who hates kale and loves tacos.

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