Healthy for the Holidays: Thanksgiving

Healthy for the Holidays: Thanksgiving

turkeyThe holidays often provide fiery, crippling internal battles. We find our usual, healthy selves pitted against a cornucopia of mouthwatering (but unwholesome) goodies. For many of us, it’s a losing battle. But there are reasonable ways to make this Thanksgiving healthy and wholesome. The best news is that you don’t have to starve yourself.

Choose Your Meat Wisely

What sits on the central platter of a Thanksgiving meal should take greater consideration than choosing vegan, turkey, or ham. It’s no secret that conventionally raised meat is contributing to rising rates of diabetes and cancer. Here are more specific numbers of how processed meats raise your risk:

  • Colon cancer by 50 percent
  • Bladder cancer by 59 percent
  • Stomach cancer by 38 percent
  • Pancreatic cancer by 67 percent

If you’re feeling carnivorous, remember to limit your consumption of meat to moderate amounts of organic, farm-fresh meats that haven’t been locked in cages their whole (bitterly short) lives. By buying from local, small farmers, your money stays in your community and to a good cause that doesn’t administer hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modified foods to their animals.

If you’re opting for vegan alternatives, be sure to read below about the typical meat substitutes: soy and corn.

Buy Organic and Stay GMO-Free

If you’re eating a turkey or other meat for Thanksgiving, be sure to buy organic. Conventionally raised animals are stuffed in health-damaging factory farms, while given heavy doses of growth hormones and antibiotics. Animals are also fed GMO grain – an altered food that would never naturally be consumed in the first place.

Vegan alternatives to meat often feature soy. Unfortunately, it’s a rare thing when this crop isn’t genetically modified or drowned in pesticides, some of which make it to the plate and onto your palate. It’s been estimated that 95 percent of soy sold in stores—even health food stores—are genetically modified to be “Monsanto Roundup Ready,” meaning “naturally” resistant to the obscenely toxic pesticide known as Roundup. GMOs actually contribute to overuse of pesticides, leading not only to resistant weeds and insects but to raised risk of human and fauna health concerns (not least of all by leaching into water supply). Consumption of GMOs has been linked to sterility, infant mortality, stunted growth, and more.

Corn is another culprit of GM and is suspected in contributing to weight gain and organ disruption. Don’t forget that corn and soy are found in a surprising number of prepared and canned foods.

Focus on Fresh Ingredients Cooked at Home

Avoiding these GMOs and factory-farm meats and cooking from scratch instantly boosts the health benefits of any Thanksgiving meal. Try your hand at new, challenging recipes like homemade cracked wheat bread or veggie-heavy stuffing instead of the typical, simple-carb-loaded varieties. Make mushroom gravy instead of (or in addition to) turkey fat gravy, and keeping nutrient-rich potato skins in with the mashed bits.

Besides, we’re supposed to be grateful for family and friends. Why not cook with them and strengthen the bond?

Additional Sources:

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Institute of Science in Society

Huffington Post