Don't Diet, It's Thanksgiving

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Let's not pretend we're going to be “careful' when we sit down to eat Thanksgiving dinner this year. That would be silly. So instead of preparing yourself for any potential guilt trip after the leftovers have been put to good use, why not talk about the responsible way to approach that buffet? To help in that endeavor, I talked to Despinda Hyde, a registered dietician at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, for the nutritional run down on the turkey et. al., so that the binge is not completely for naught.

*Don’t ditch the carbs

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Every food group is important—even the Parker House rolls. However, if you're concerned (or a member of the GF Club), Hyde says that you can find refuge in complex carbs. Sweet potatoes, for example, are high in vitamin B6, antioxidants, beta carotene, vitamin C, and potassium. Just stick to this rule of thumb: fill half of your plate with veggies, one fourth protein, and one fourth carbs. (Also potentially just wait for the next day; reheating pasta transforms it into a resistance carb, which is a healthier option than your run-of-the-mill simple sugars).

*The more colorful, the better

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Seasonal vegetables also contain tons of fiber and nutrients. Brussels sprouts, for instance, pack your body with vitamins C and K. Fibrous (and vibrantly colored) fall squashes are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, low in fat, and high in B vitamins. Green beans deliver vitamin A, while apples provide fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. We’re gonna assume that counts even if they’re crammed into a pie…

*Canned can work

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The maxim “fresh is best' doesn’t always apply. Hyde says you don't need to gore your own pumpkin for full nutritional value—the canned stuff will do just fine, with beta-carotene, vitamin A and tons of fiber (seven grams per cup!). Not to mention it's low in fat and calories. Canned cranberries are a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants, although they are likely to have added sugar.

*Flip ‘em the (whole) bird

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The inevitable pièce de résistance, the turkey, is probably the least of your concerns, nutritionally speaking (unless it's deep-fried, in which case, we can't help you). It’s high in protein (stabilizing blood sugar and reducing cravings), low in calories, a good source of iron, zinc and B vitamins. Even the dark meat is good for you.

So go on, indulge. Happy Thanksgiving!

—Alexis Cheung

Photographed by Tom Newton.

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