5 Ways to Stuff Yourself the Right Way on Thanksgiving

Plus 5 Thanksgiving Day Foods You Might Regret...

Written by Alex Reid
Posted November 25, 2015

The yearly fall feast is fast upon us.

It's a time for gathering with family and friends and enjoying delicious homemade foods.

For many people, this week turns into a weight-loss nightmare. It can be hard to resist a table brimming with gravy, pies, and buttered rolls.

And frankly, if there's one day to binge... shouldn't it be Thanksgiving?

I'm here to tell you that you don't have to abandon your weight-loss efforts or starve yourself of delicious foods this holiday. You just have to know the right ones to eat.

With that I give you my list of the five best and five worst foods to feast on come Thursday...

5 to Fill Up On

1. Turkey – You'll want to have seconds of the bird. The nutrient levels for turkey are off the charts: It's a huge source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, and selenium. Turkey also provides high saturated fat and protein content. As you might have read in previous articles, saturated fat will actually keep you feeling fuller longer and reduce food cravings throughout the day; as well, it is necessary for brain, heart, bone, liver, lung, immune system, and skin health (not to mention important in testosterone production). You know what that means? You don't have to feel guilty about eating the skin!

And let's not forget about the mega-amounts of protein, also helpful in keeping you feeling fuller longer. Protein builds muscles, and so protein consumption is important for maintaining muscle mass throughout your life, which includes your heart and your stomach.

2. Pumpkin Soup – Pumpkin is an amazing source of vitamin A and includes significant amounts of vitamin E (an anti-oxidant), C, and many of the B vitamins (including choline, which helps with memory, cognitive function, and other aspects of brain health). One cup of pumpkin will supply you with a healthy dose of potassium, copper, manganese, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.

If you're using chicken stock as your base for the soup, you'll be doing your immune system some good as well: It's been found to have an anti-inflammatory effect, which can help reduce the symptoms of colds and flus.

3. Roasted Brussels Sprouts – These cousins of the cabbage are full of the little-known vitamin K. This particular vitamin is necessary for bone health, blood coagulation (clotting a cut), and helps prevent calcification (hardening) of your arteries. Brussels sprouts are also a significant source of vitamin C. This little vegetable even acts as a mild anti-inflammatory.

4. Green Beans – If you've never cooked green beans with bacon, prosciutto, or ham... you're missing out. Not only is this an amazingly tasty combination, but the fat from these meats helps make the vitamins and minerals more “bio-available,” which means you're able to digest more of them, increasing your nutrient intake.

Green beans offer a good dose of vitamins A, C, K, and B complex, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese.

5. Ham – This alternative to turkey gets a green light for nutrition content — with two quick caveats: 1. Store-bought ham is, more often than not, heavy-handed with sodium. Low-sodium will be the better purchase here; and 2. Ham from grocery stores is usually full of corn and wheat-based fillers. Not only does this take away from the taste, but these fillers are full of unnecessary carbohydrates.

Ham has the same protein and saturated fat benefits of turkey, in addition of being full of phosphorus, zinc, selenium, and B vitamins. As long as you steer clear of the processed stuff (stick to organic if you can), this is a great meat to help you keep your weight-loss goals on track.

5 to Pass On

1. Stuffing – Full of salt, fattening carbohydrates, and severely lacking in any kind of nutrient, stuffing has no redeeming qualities (except perhaps the herbs used for seasoning).

Skip the stuffing and make room for an extra piece of turkey or ham instead.

2. Canned Cranberry Sauce – This is a shame, since cranberries are significant sources of vitamins C, E, K, and the nutrient manganese. However, canned cranberry sauce contains so much sugar, this outweighs any of the fruit's natural benefits. (For comparison: An 8 oz. Coke has 28 grams of sugar. The same amount of Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce has 84 grams of sugar!)

You'd be much better off making your own and using much less sugar. I recommend this recipe, which has much less sugar (and is much more delicious) than anything you'll find in a can.

3. Dinner Rolls – These addictive little guys pose the same problem as stuffing, although with much less salt. You're looking at a carbohydrate-rich, nutrient-lacking, fattening filler. Why fill yourself up on bread when you can eat much healthier (and tastier) pumpkin soup instead?

4. Pumpkin Pie – I know, I know... I'm raining on the Thanksgiving Day parade with this one. While pumpkin by itself has a number of health benefits, it's not healthy when you add loads of sugar and flour to it, and then top it with processed whipped cream from a can.

However, there are healthier and much more filling versions of pumpkin pie that contain a significantly lower amount of sugar. And they won't leave you craving seconds and thirds. This is one of my favorite recipes from Elana's Pantry.

5) Sweet Potato Casserole – Like the humble pumpkin, sweet potatoes happen to be one of the most nutrient-dense foods out there. Not only are they a surprising source of protein, but sweet potatoes are a solid source of vitamins A, C, B, as well as copper, manganese, and potassium.

However, much like the pumpkin, this casserole dish transforms the sweet potato into an unhealthy monster. The most popular holiday recipe calls for the chef to cover sweet potatoes in maple syrup, brown sugar, and marshmallows.

The good news is, like pumpkin pie, you can easily find healthier, less sugary (and equally delicious) versions of sweet potato casserole. Here's one that will make your mouth water.

The Health Wire staff and I wish you a very enjoyable (and tasty!) Thanksgiving!

Yours in Health,


Ken Swearengen

P.S. Don't forget to send me your questions, comments, and criticisms! You can do so by email at Ken.S@angelpub.com. You can also post your thoughts via Twitter @HealthwireKen, or "Like" our Health Wire Facebook page and post your message on our wall.


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