Guest post by Lindsay Krasna, Registered Dietitian
Happy (almost) Thanksgiving, Grit by Brit readers!
The other night, I hosted my first family-style “dinner party” of sorts: a pre-Thanksgiving potluck/apartment-warming, Brooklyn-style. The combination of the good energy from my pals, and the scrumptious Thanksgiving-esque fare they all contributed made for one of the most fun Big Apple nights I’ve ever had! While admittedly, I ate more in quantity, and more “indulgently” than I would have on a typical night, I walked away from that meal with an incredible sense of well-being, contentment and nourishment.
Reflecting on the evening inspired me to post on this topic – The Healthy Side of Thanksgiving – because so often, this holiday gets a bad rap in the nutrition world. I mean, let’s face it, “nutritious” isn’t exactly the first adjective that comes to mind when we think of Thanksgiving… “diet buster” or “gluttony” is more like it. Furthermore, during this time of year, the media is relentlessly flooded with stories featuring tips on “how to avoid holiday season weight gain” or “how to re-work traditional holiday dishes into healthier versions.” While I certainly recognize the value that this type of information offers for health-conscious individuals looking to sustain their healthy habits throughout the holiday season, I also feel strongly that there is not nearly enough attention paid to the (perhaps less obvious) healthful aspects of Thanksgiving that we may forget to embrace and appreciate.
Thus, I’d like to draw your attention to my personal top 4 underrated (yet wonderfully nourishing, and yes, even nutritious) parts of Turkey Day!
- Expanded food repertoires. We are creatures of habit, and so often, we get stuck in foods ruts, eating the same things for breakfast, lunch and dinner without even realizing how routinized we’ve become. But food variety is an important part of good nutrition, too. With an extensive “food-scape” to choose from on Thanksgiving, we can use this meal to expose our palates to less familiar flavors and textures, learn about new cooking techniques, and even garner inspiration for some new meals ideas outside of holiday time.
- Kitchen collaboration. There is a TON of research touting the benefits of family meals. For example, children of families that cook and dine together regularly tend to have more nutritious diets and a decreased risk for developing disordered eating habits. And while meals together may not always be a realistic gig for families on a regular basis, what better holiday than Thanksgiving to make it a family affair! Cooking as a group also provides a natural foundation for bonding, which occurs through the collaboration and communication necessary for preparing and enjoying a home-cooked meal. Speaking of which…
- Emotional nourishment and group entertainment value. We receive nourishment not only in the form of the physical nutrients that enter into our body through food, but also through the emotional satisfaction that comes from experiencing fulfilling connections with others. The convening of family (or friends) in a group setting such as Thanksgiving provides us a unique opportunity to bond with loved ones, many of whom we may not see on a regular basis. There is also a special dynamic that comes along with a group meal. Groups have a way of forming a life of their own, and if you take a step back and actually listen to the group’s conversation, it can be quite humorous and highly entertaining. Or, maybe this is just my family… 🙂
- A perfect opportunity to practice self-compassion. Remember my post on “Finding Balance?” The definition of healthy eating is: consistently blending basic nutrition principles (cerebral knowledge) with your body’s intuitive hunger-fullness cues and taste preferences (internal knowledge). Key word: “consistently.” Overindulging is TOTALLY normal and natural at a meal like Thanksgiving, when we’re presented with an overwhelming amount of food (and perhaps overwhelming people, too). If nothing else, we can use Thanksgiving to practice being compassionate with ourselves, especially after we realize we were waaaay off the mark when we reached for that 3rd helping of sweet potatoes…. (yum).
Wishing you a Thanksgiving feast that is truly nourishing!
For more nutrition tips or to get in contact with Lindsay Krasna, Registered Dietitian, visit: http://www.lknutrition.com/