Let's Talk Turkey About How to Make Your Thanksgiving Dinner a Little Bit Healthier

The holiday season is fast approaching and so are Thanksgiving feasts, Christmas dinners, and boatloads of desserts. Yum! While we don’t mind indulging around the holidays (read: treat yourself), we do our best to make mostly healthy choices when we can.

If you want to join us in being healthy-ish this Thanksgiving season, you can start by checking out these debunked holiday food myths:

Thanksgiving mealMyth 1: Carbohydrates are bad for you

No way! Not only are carbohydrates essential to a healthy diet, they’re also necessary to keep you energized. What does matter is where you get your carbs from. Instead of getting your daily carb intake from donuts, bread, and processed foods, try getting them from healthier foods, such as quinoa, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, or oats. Then again, who can say no to a homemade casserole or a delicious pie on Thanksgiving? Not us!

Myth 2: Cooking stuffing inside your turkey is totally safe

Lots of people cook their turkeys with stuffing inside without ever getting sick, but that doesn’t make this particular method safe per se. Because stuffing makes the turkey heavier, you’ll need to account for that when roasting your bird. If your turkey is not cooked thoroughly, the leftover juice can put you at risk for salmonella - gross! So if you take a gamble and cook your turkey with stuffing inside, just make sure it’s cooked to 165 degrees before you dig in.

Myth 3: You should use fresh pumpkin instead of canned

Most of the time, it’s true that fresh fruits and vegetables are superior to their canned counterparts. However, pumpkin is the exception to that rule. Canned pumpkin actually contains more vitamins than fresh pumpkin - plus, it’s packed with fiber. Be careful when you’re grabbing from the shelves of the grocery store though. Pumpkin pie filling differs from canned pumpkin. And yes, you can log it as part of the ongoing Nutrition Challenge.

Myth 4: Eating too much turkey makes you sleepy

Turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid that produces melatonin. So, in a sense, yes, too much turkey could potentially make you sleepy but, the majority of the time, carbs, sugar, and fat are to blame for your post-meal food coma. When your stomach is full, lots of energy is spent trying to digest its contests which means there’s less blood and energy being sent to other parts of the body. So when you settle into your spot on the couch after dinner, don’t blame the turkey.

We hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving - and that you can put these debunked food myths to good use at dinner!