As wonderful as the holiday season is, there can come along with it some anxiety and stress surrounding food choices. Well, I’m here to help give you some of my nutrition tips for Thanksgiving. Disclaimer: this is probably not going to be your typical nutrition/healthy Thanksgiving post that you might usually read — but it might be just the most useful one for you yet!
1. Don’t wait until dinner to eat your first meal of the day (even if your family does an early dinner in the afternoon). By fasting until dinner, your blood sugar levels drop, causing low energy, lethargy, and irritability. Also, you’ll be more likely to eat past fullness later on, which never feels great.
Instead, eat as your normally would throughout any other day! I encourage a fat- and protein-filled breakfast (eggs cooked in grass-fed butter, grass-fed ghee, or coconut oil with bacon and avocado is a great choice!). If you normally snack, do that. If you drink coffee, do that. Just don’t change a thing just because it’s Thanksgiving.
2. Eat the dark meat. And the skin. And if you’re feeling Contrary to what you might have been told in our diet culture throughout the years, fat is actually GOOD for you (especially when the types of fat we eat are in the right balance) and has many important roles in the body, including the building blocks of our cell membranes, our brain matter, a sustained source of energy, hormone function, and more. Plus it tastes delicious. It’s a win-win-win-win, so please don’t be scared to grab the meat from the thigh or drumstick! Your body will thank you. Also, bonus points if you eat the organ meats — trust me on this. They are so chock-full of nutrients that your body loves, and are especially rich in the B vitamins, and other nutrients that support your adrenal health.
3. Butter your potatoes, veggies, and other carbohydrate-rich foods. Yep, you heard that right. Adding fat alongside your carbohydrates slows the absorption, so that you don’t get crazy spikes in blood sugar, which can create a stress response in the body and make you feel awful. Adding fat (like butter, sour cream, or a whole-milk based sauce) slows down this process and keeps your levels more even-keeled. Plus, fat is a necessary cofactor to absorbing vitamins A, D, E, and K (without fat we cannot absorb these important vitamins!). May I suggest sauteeing your green beans or broccoli in grass-fed ghee or grass-fed butter with some garlic? I’m practically drooling thinking about this one!
4. Drink plenty of water! This is especially important if you plan on imbibing with dinner. A general guideline I like to follow is to aim for at least half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. So, if you’re 150 pounds, aim for at least 75 oz of water each day (more is better!). Another tip for drinking water is to sip it slowly throughout the day surrounding meals (not with meals, or you can dilute you all-important stomach acid that you need in full-force to digest your food properly), rather than chugging a bunch down all at once. This is because our cells cannot actually store water, so they will take in what they need at the time of consumption and absorption, but then you’ll excrete out any excess beyond that. So carry around a bottle of water with you (feel free to use my code CPFOOD10 on the Healthy Human Amazon store page to save 10% on an awesome water bottle that you’ll love carrying around with you!), and sip sip sip continuously throughout the day (and limit your beverage consumption during meals).
5. Enjoy yourself and don’t stress about the food. Digestion (and subsequently absorption and assimilation of nutrients) starts in the brain. If we are in a stressed out state (i.e. having anxiety or guilt surrounding food, restricting, thinking about body image, etc.) we literally cannot digest our food properly, not to mention we’re simply not enjoying ourselves while in the presence of family and friends (a time when we should be the most present and joyful). Remember that nourishing your body with real, whole foods is exactly what your body needs, eat it, enjoy the flavors, and then forget about it. Also, take a few long deep belly breaths before taking your first bite — this will switch you into a parasympathetic, relaxed state, which signals to your body that you’re ready to eat and to digest!
6. Bonus: Eat the pie. Have seconds. Clink your glass with family members. Be grateful.