Why do we stuff our faces on thanksgiving?

363681197Ever wonder why most of us overindulge on Thanksgiving? I know some of you are thinking  “we’re all just a bunch of gluttons at heart” while others (like my Uncle Mike) are cackling out loud “it’s fun to stuff ourselves on such a glorious holiday!” I can definitely agree with this thinking on some level because I’m the first to say that food and the eating experience must ABSOLUTELY be enjoyable. However, there’s actually a little science behind why we eat and eat and eat and eat on Thanksgiving.

First, how many of you use the old skip breakfast to  save calories  on Thanksgiving trick?  It sounds like a good idea in theory right? Eat very little in the morning so you have room for the big kahuna meal later that day. Unfortunately, our brilliant bodies are also pretty dumb. When we skip meals, our bodies freak out and think “oh sh*#%!, I better stuff my face at the next meal so I have enough in reserve.” Scientifically, when we skip a meal our bodies go into a temporary starvation cycle causing us to overeat in subsequent meals. That’s why by the time your family and friends sit down to an afternoon celebratory meal, all your brain can think about is FOOOOD! And, the pants-busting, stomach-stretching marathon begins.

The second reason why we overindulge on Thanksgiving has a lot to do with the traditional American Thanksgiving fare and how our bodies process this food.  Did you know there are several signals that your body and the food you consume send to your brain to tell it you’re full?   The three main factors that in conjunction initiate this “I’m full signal” are:

  1. Sufficient calories taken in
  2. Volume of food in your stomach 
  3. Adequate nutrients consumed

The first two are pretty straightforward but humor me. If we only at a plate full of plain veggies, we might feel full momentarily because bulky veggies will fill our stomach plus they’re packed with nutrients our bodies need like vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. But, if you’re anything like me, eating just a plate of veggies will have you wanting to gnaw on a turkey leg within an hour! Similarly, if you ate a half a stick of butter that’s got your calories covered, you’ll likely be hungry soon too because your stomach still has space in it and you haven’t given yourself critical nutrients beyond fat and some calcium.

There is a trick to avoiding overindulging so you can have a delicious Thanksgiving meal minus the bellyache. You just need to make sure your body gets calories + substance + nutrients. Filling up on turkey and mashed potatoes will have you piling apple pie for three on your plate.  Opting for only stuffing and cranberry sauce will have you starving before dessert is even served. Instead, make a balanced plate of turkey, vegetables, stuffing and potatoes.

Now, I don’t want anyone force-feeding themselves or their kids boring steamed veggies during such a delicious, happy meal. The trick to avoiding such embarrassing behavior is making veggie dishes that are so good everyone will be asking for seconds. To help you accomplish this easily (remember I’m all about simple changes), this week’s blog post is a brief round up of vegetable dishes that your family is sure to enjoy during Thanksgiving and the entire winter season!

Greens and cruciferous veggies: These are good for detoxifying after a rich meal and packed with a range of nutrients.

Brussel Sprouts with Apples + Shallots

Cider Glazed Apples and Cabbage

Root veggies: These are grounding and give you that feel good feeling while also boosting the immune system

Roasted Root Veggies

Glazed Acorn Squash

Got any amazing veggie-based Thanksgiving recipes you want to share? Tell us in the comments! Happy Holidays!

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