Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ask the Internet: Does Healthy Food Matter on Thanksgiving?

A question, a question. All my kingdom (and sweet potatoes) for a question.

From Wiki user Lupin
Q: Do you give a whit about maintaining a healthy diet on Thanksgiving?

A: I do not. I tend to view Turkey Day like the Super Bowl, Christmas, and my birthday: 24 free hours to eat whatever I like, regardless of the consequences. I’ll go back to wholesomeness the day after.

Readers, what about you? Do you keep the healthy food faith on T-giving? Why or why not? Let’s debate.

Want to ask the interweb a question? Post one in the comment section, or write to Cheaphealthygood@gmail.com. Then, tune in next Tuesday for an answer/several answers from the good people of the World Wide Net.

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29 comments:

Claire said...

No way! That's one of the very few days of the year we have such an elaborate meal and I intend to enjoy every morsel. My husband is on the opposite end - he doesn't think you should ever fall off the healthy eating bandwagon. That makes figuring out what's on our childrens' plates a little tricky...

TJ said...

It's a tough question. But no, I don't pay as much attention at the food. I will, however, make things slightly healthier here and there by using a little less oil, better choices in food/ingredients without sacrificing Turkey Day flavor, but all bets are off during that night... and two or three days after. Just remember: a healthy lifestyle is not oppressively restrictive. One day (or two or three) of random eating will not ruin your metabolism or the body you’ve worked months or years to get. So eat up. Moderation is key.

mollyjade said...

I have type 1 diabetes 365 days a year, so a free-for-all is never an option. But that doesn't mean that anything is banished from my plate, either. So, conscious enjoyment? Manageable indulgence?

Lynell said...

At least Thanksgiving dinner includes made from scratch foods rather than processed, and usually a few servings of fruits and veggies, which is always better than a side of cheese fries. So, really, is it all that bad?
Thanksgiving is a holiday to give thanks for the friends, family, and really, food. It's not the worst indulgence we could go for. :)

Marla @ 180turning30 said...

No way! I don't exercise on Thanksgiving, either. I could never maintain a healthy lifestyle if I didn't take some time off from thinking about it every once in awhile. I have very easily maintained a significant weight loss for years like this - I was really surprised when I found out that it worked much better than trying to watch what I ate 365 days a year. But hey, everyone's different, and for those of you who take the opposite approach... enjoy your Thanksgiving celery and mung beans!

Milehimama @ Mama Says said...

I think this is a false premise. It assumes that healthy food tastes bad, but that on holidays we should feel free to eat unhealthy food because it tastes good.

But that's not necessarily true, and it also depends on how you define "healthy".

I would judge real whipped cream to be healthier than Cool Whip Light - and it tastes better.

I would judge pumpkin pie made with with real pumpkin and real eggs to be healthier than a prefab processed pie containing fillers, soybean oil, etc.

Homemade rolls are tastier and healthier than store bought wheat colored HFCS rolls.

And turkey, cranberries, and potatoes are healthy, anyway!

Unless healthy eating is defined as "calorie restriction", in which case I say indulge on the holidays. It's important culturally and it's good for the soul to feast and celebrate once in a while!

Sally said...

I certainly don't pay attention to Healthy Food on Thanksgiving. But then, by the definition many people use for Healthy Food, I don't pay attention to it any day of the year.

My thoughts about this have changed radically over the last 10 years or so.

Kate S. said...

I know that for at least some members of my family, Thanksgiving is one of the few times of the year that they eat real food! Those sweet potatoes may have marshmallows on top, but at least they were real, honest-to-goodness vegetables that morning. Same goes for the green beans swimming in bacon grease. My mom (head chef on T-Day and Christmas) makes all her dishes from whole foods, something that my frozen dinner munching cousins appreciate. Portion sizes may go out the window, but the feast itself doesn't have to be unhealthy.

Hannah @Cooking Manager said...

I agree with Lynell. Thanksgiving food can be fairly healthy, when you make it yourself. Overeating once or twice a year won't kill you, either.

Marcia said...

depends. Most T-giving? No.

On years (like this year, and 3 years ago when I was trying to lose the baby weight), yes.

This year it's just my nuclear family (three of us), so it will be way easier to control. Less butter in the mashed potatoes, no pies (I don't like pie anyway), nice light soup to start.

BUT, I will be hitting the stuffing pretty hard.

Allison said...

I am in cahoots with myself regarding this question. Just a few weeks ago, I started a lifestyle change, in that I went from someone who was a junk-food/fast-food slug who never did anything...to someone who eats well, drinks lots of water, takes vitamins, and walks two miles every day. Granted, this was an awesome idea of mine...but I surely picked a heck of a bad time to start, because I am faced with Halloween, Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas, and New Years. My thoughts are that I should keep my healthy eating in-line during the holidays, basically because I've spent the last few weeks detoxing off caffeine, sugar, fat, etc...and my stomach has learned to live on appropriate portions of food...and I don't want to back track. But who knows what the heck I will do when I'm faced with oodles of holiday yummies. *sigh*...I just don't know what is right.

chacha1 said...

Given that the only "unhealthy" ingredients in my last few T-day feasts were the pie crust and the marshmallows on the yams, I'd have to say yes, healthy food does matter.

BUT with the important caveat that "healthy" does not necessarily equal "low-calorie." Because it certainly doesn't in this case.

Emmy said...

I'm hitting the Chinese buffet with NO regrets!

Heather A said...

It's a bit of a mix for me. While I do eat more overall, I try to cook with healthier ingredients. For example... fat free cream of mushroom soup and less fried onions (or caramelized fresh onions)in the green bean casserole; fat free evaporated milk and low fat crust (if any) for the pumpkin pie; fat free gravy mixed with turkey juices (fat drained) and spices for flavor; fat free sour cream blended into the mashed potatoes instead of butter; baked sweet potatoes instead of sweet potato casserole w/ marshmallows and cream. Homemade cranberry sauce allows me to control the sugar level (I use a little honey and some OJ) and the stuffing is made with light 100% whole wheat bread, no butter, and lots of veggies (onions, celery, carrot shavings) & fruit (diced apples and dried cranberries). Every healthier ingredient choice I make helps the overall health level of the meal better. Then, when I want to have extra helpings, I can have them without causing nearly as much damage to my healthy eating as I would have 2 years ago. It also guarantees that everyone else has a wonderful meal & never notices the difference. :)

Jill C said...

Im on a special food plan, so I treat holidays like any other day...protein, grain, veggie and a salad! All weighed and measured, I bring a photo of my 20 pounds heavier just in case someone asks why I'm not eating the way they do! :)

MonsteRawr said...

On a day-to-day basis, I count calories, but on Thanksgiving and Christmas, I shall count nothing but the numbers of pie I eat. That being said, I will also be participating in a three-mile run on Thanksgiving morning, so that will lessen the damage.

Kristen@TheFrugalGirl said...

I totally don't worry about it. I do prefer from-scratch version of foods, so the stuff I eat on Thanksgiving is not usually processed, but I wouldn't say it's exactly healthy.

Delilah said...

It depends on how you define healthy. If I'm going to others' houses I eat whatever, but if I host myself I do make "healthy" everything. But my definition of healthy is a bit different, I find nothing wrong with fat or calories, and believe that decadent things made with minimally processed foods are so delicious/filling that you just eat less. So, I still make all of the traditional things, but for example my green bean casserole uses fresh green beans, and the mushroom sauce is made from fresh portabellas, organic cream, a splash of red wine, etc. (NOT cream of mushroom soup from a can!) The topping is some of those fried onion things, but blended with pepper and a few slices of sprouted wholegrain bread ground up (breadcrumbs, but crazy healthy, also crazy delicious). My sweet potato casserole uses honey and agave nectar to sweeten, and my topping is a mix of corn flakes, pecans, walnuts (ground very small), raw sugar and butter (no marshmallows here!). Turkey I don't ever deep fry (although that is admittedly tasty) I make my own cranberry sauce from actual cranberries and red wine, and the stuffing is easy to make healthy (use that same sprouted wholegrain bread, veggie broth, celery, apples, shredded carrots... throw in whatever healthy veggies you like.

I kind of live by a "Superfoods" nutrition philosophy, I don't eliminate things I like to eat, but I try to add in as many superfoods as I can, you just naturally eat less of the bad when you're focusing on the good.

Anonymous said...

I think the important thing to do on Thanksgiving is to enjoy your food. Do what feels right that day, and don't feel guilty about it. I will be eating out of my "normal" healthy habits, to fuel the shopping that will occur only hours later; then, back on the wagon I'll go...with no regrets.

rip said...

Healthy diet? Nope.

But healthy ingredients? Yes. I use high quality ingredients. Tastes better and requires less salt and butter to make it palatable. It's the difference between a ribeye steak and a McDonalds burger patty. If you're serving up a 5000 calorie home cooked Thanksgiving dinner(not including dessert), you are doing something wrong.

Quirky Jessi said...

I'm the same way. When it gets me in trouble is if I treat the entire season that way, lol.

Stephen said...

It's Thanksgiving, so, I'd eat a lot. Just like you, I don't deprive myself in eating foods out of the healthy zone. It's once a year, so...

Kris said...

That the "how we define healthy" debate is exactly what I wanted to get into with this question, and I'm so happy everyone is addressing it.

Personally, I don't think healthy foods are necessarily low-calorie or low-fat ones, but instead, are those made with whole ingredients.

That said, I'm not averse to finishing the meal with Andes Candies, or topping my sweet potatoes with a marshmallow or two. On Thanksgiving, anything/everything goes.

Also, Emmy: HILARIOUS.

Jenny said...

No way! There is way too much good food on Thanksgiving. I have to give in...to everything!

Sally said...

Here's how I define healthy: real food (including full-fat dairy, eggs and other products), and nothing to excess. Very little ultra-processed food. In addition to whatever other benefits there may be, real food is more satisfying. I find I'm eating less without trying.

Also, I think if 80% of what I eat is real food, the other 20% can be more processed or even some ultra-processed. It seems to be working.

I use white flour in my baking and cooking, but with a few exceptions (pasta, for instance), buy nothing made from white flour. I have nothing to support my opinion, but I think purchased products made from white flour are more processed that those I make. Also, I know the ingredients in what I make.

shady brady dye said...

It depends on how many holidays a year we are going to have a free for all. A few isn't bad and I think it's good for you to enjoy what you like to eat. But lets see how many days we can think of that we actually allow ourselves to eat poorly:
your birthday
a family member or spouses birthday
your anniversary
valentine's
Thanksgiving (and sometimes multiple days if you have multiple family events)
Christmas is the same
New Years
Superbowl
NCAA Tournament
NBA Tournament
World Series
World Cup (darn sports anyway!)

So basically we shouldn't allow ourselves to "look" for excuses to eat horribly. We should only pick a few holidays that are truly meaningful and forget about how we eat. That's not saying you can't enjoy a little of the "bad for you" stuff any of these other days, it's just saying the whole meal shouldn't always be a free for all and especially not the whole day if it's for all of the possible holidays.

Christina said...

Agreed. Thanksgiving is a free day. I will go back to my diet the day after.

C said...

Yes! Thanksgiving and I had a rough adolescence together. Two different Thanksgivings in high school, the "letting one day slide thing" came back to bite me in my ever-growing butt. It wasn't all of the holidays, but that one was infamous in my mind. I decided that holidays were not meant for feeling badly. Thanksgiving and I have been friends since my freshman year of college when I decided that turkey and plant based foods were abundant and could be enjoyed moderately. Processed foods were the cause of physical and emotional pain for my adolescent self and they will be avoided.

Dee said...

You can still very much enjoy your Thanksgiving meal and be healthy too. Just cut back on the butter a bit and counting calories will be much less stressful. BodyMedia makes an armband that you can wear and sync to your mobile phone that acts as a calorie counter
for you! Just eat good calories, get up the next morning for a jog, and track it all on the armband and you will be fine!