With Thanksgiving just a little over a week away, you’re sure to already be planning your recipes for the feast that kicks off the holiday season. This holiday is marked by classic dishes and many traditions, but many of the things you think you know about the Thanksgiving meal may not be as true as you think. What’s fact, and what’s fiction? Here are 5 Thanksgiving food myths you may have believed to be true, but which are now officially debunked.
1. Turkey makes you sleepy
Many know turkey for it’s concentration of the amino acid tryptophan: the precursor for serotonin, which is needed for healthy sleep. It’s a common belief that it is the tryptophan in turkey that makes you want to lie down on the couch after eating Thanksgiving dinner, and never get off of it. While tryptophan would make you sleepy if consumed by itself, it has little effect when consumed with other amino acids, of which turkey and other Thanksgiving foods consumed have many. If you are sleepy after Thanksgiving, don’t blame the bird! Your energy dip actually comes as you digest the large amount of carbohydrate-heavy foods eaten during the meal.
2. You shouldn’t eat breakfast on Thanksgiving, to save room and to save calories
You may think that skipping breakfast the day of Thanksgiving saves you calories for the meal ahead, but this decision actually wreaks havoc on your health. Skipping breakfast slows down your metabolism, and leaves you feeling weak and cranky during the day. Most importantly, it makes you much more likely to overeat when you sit down at the dinner table. You’ll eat faster and less mindfully, and may end up eating much more than you would have otherwise. Eat a small and nutritious meal before you get to all that cooking, one that is packed with protein, slow burning carbohydrates, and heart-healthy fat. This nutritions breakfast will rev your metabolism, will keep you from getting a nasty blood sugar crash during the day, and will set you up to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner without racing to devour it.
3. Thanksgiving means butter, butter, and more butter
Many people believe that Thanksgiving and copious amounts of butter go hand in hand, but it’s actually quite possible to have a Thanksgiving meal that is absolutely delicious, with little to no excess saturated fat. Sweet potatoes can be made without butter; just roast them in a slow cooker before mashing them, and they will be creamier and sweeter than boiling them or roasting them in the oven. Mashed potatoes can even be made with olive oil instead of butter, and veggies can be sautéed in heart-healthy olive oil as well. Cut down on the butter in the stuffing and use more chicken broth, for a stuffing that is just as flavorful but a lot lower in fat.
4. Canned pumpkin isn’t as healthy for you as fresh pumpkin
Using canned pumpkin is not only more convenient than roasting and mashing your own, but it actually is just as healthy for you as the fresh stuff. 100% canned pumpkin usually has no added preservatives or additives, and is just as rich in iron, fiber, potassium, and other essential vitamins and minerals as fresh pumpkin. The trick is to stay away from canned “pumpkin pie mix,” which is often filled with high fructose corn syrup as an added sweetener, and is therefore much higher in sugar and calories.
5. Putting stuffing inside a turkey before cooking is perfectly safe
Many people think that cooking the stuffing inside the turkey is safe, but in fact, it can put you at a high risk of getting food poisoning. When the stuffing is placed inside the bird before cooking, turkey juices filled with bacteria can leak into the stuffing and contaminate it. During the time in the oven, the stuffing does not get to the internal temperature needed to kill all the bacteria. In order to heat the stuffing to the safe temperature of 165 degrees F, it usually means overcooking the turkey. In order to stay safe and to keep your turkey moist and perfectly cooked, cook the stuffing separately and stuff it into the bird after it comes out of the oven.
Have a question about how you can have the healthiest Thanksgiving possible? You can always connect with one of our doctors at any time. They’re there to answer any question for you 24/7.
Author: Maggie Harriman