How to Approach Your 2020 Thanksgiving Feast

2020 Thanksgiving Feast

2020 Thanksgiving Feast

You are in the Thanksgiving buffet line plate in hand, salivating over a full spread of turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and yes, even wine. Your head and heart are conflicted. What do you do- dive in unapologetically or practice self-control?  



2020 has been a year of challenges, not just for you but for everyone across the globe. The pandemic has likely derailed your training regimen, postponed races, and changed your life as you knew it pre-COVID-19. Given these added life stressors, it would be wise to recognize this year’s Thanksgiving feast should serve as an act of self-compassion and kindness with a nutritional boost instead of sparking an internal battle. 


Everything in moderation, even excess


Here’s where I would typically advise practicing self-control, striking a healthy balance of macronutrients, and limiting portions, especially on the desserts. But this year, my advice has a different approach. Honestly, haven’t we sacrificed enough? 


For this holiday meal, I’m encouraging you to enjoy the heck out of your feast, pile your plate, savor each bite – completely guilt-free. But wait, there’s more; I’m not advocating you fall off the healthy eating tracks altogether. But an occasional celebratory indulgence will unlikely derail you from a healthy lifestyle. A splurge might be just what you need to feel satisfied and promote lifestyle nutrition sustainability. Either way, food is not intended to be withheld or categorized as “bad” or “good.” It’s food, for crying out loud. Some choices are better than others, but there is a time and place for it all. 


Now, let’s go through the buffet, fill your plate, and breakdown the nutritional profile of how each food nourishes and fuels your athletic body.  


Macronutrients Role 


Protein is responsible for the repair and repair of muscle tissue, supports a healthy immune system, stops muscle breakdown post-workout, provides a key source of iron, and supports hormonal balance. 


Carbohydrates  (CHO) are the primary fuel source burned for energy during physical activity, and adequate stores (muscle, liver glycogen, blood glucose) are critical for optimum performance.


Fat is a significant fuel source for athletes, especially during endurance exercise, and performs many essential functions in the body.






Now, let’s go through the buffet, fill your plate, and breakdown the nutritional profile of how each food nourishes and fuels your athletic body. 


Turkey – supports muscle growth and maintenance, provides structure to cells, and helps transport nutrients around your body. Helps rebuild and repair muscle tissue


-Nutritional benefits: B Vit 3 (niacin), B Vit 6 (pyridoxine), and B Vit 12 (cobalamin); three minerals – selenium, zinc, and phosphorus, and small amounts of magnesium and potassium.  


-Nutrition facts


3 oz white meat contains 25g Pro, 3g Fat, 0g CHO


3 oz dark meat contains 23.5g Pro, 5g Fat, 0g CHO


*Recommend a generous portion here, such as the size of two decks of cards. 


For reference, 3oz is the size of one deck of cards.




Gravy – juices


-Nutrition facts: 1/4th cup contains 3g CHO, 1.5g Pro, 1.2g Fat




Stuffing – a carbohydrate (CHO) rich side that provides energy, similar to bread.


-Nutrition facts: one cup contains 30g CHO, 6g Pro, 20g Fat. 




Sweet Potato Casserole – a carbohydrate-rich root vegetable 


-Nutritional benefits: high in immune-supporting vitamins A and C, energy-providing B vitamins, potassium (regulates blood pressure), and manganese, a mineral that helps produce collagen and promotes skin and bone health. 


-Nutrition facts: ½ cup contains 36g CHO, 4g Pro, 18g fat.




Green Bean Casserole – green beans are lower in carbs compared to lentils.  


Nutritional benefits: good source of dietary fiber and dietary protein, and key minerals such as copper, magnesium, and iron.


-Nutrition facts:  one cup contains 22g CHO, 3.3g fiber; 4.1g Pro, 10g Fat 




Mashed Potatoes  – a great source of energy to fuel your run 


Nutritional benefits – high in potassium, Vit C, Vit B6, fiber, and iron  


-Nutrition facts: one cup contains 35.5g CHO (2g fiber), 4.2g Pro, 8.8g Fat




Cranberry Sauce – Cranberries are packed with super phytonutrients, help combat inflammation, and immune-boosting Vit C. Although cranberry sauce has added sugar, the protein in turkey will help camouflage the effects. 


Nutritional benefits: Vit C 


-Nutrition facts: one slice contains 22g CHO, 0g Fat, 0g Pro, 17mg sodium, 0.6g fiber.




Adult Beverages


Wine is known for containing polyphenols, an antioxidant that helps protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart, reduces inflammation, and protects against heart disease and cancer.


White wine – boosts cardiovascular and cognitive health, metabolic function and helps the body combat oxidative stress. Speaking of stress, enjoying a glass of wine around a table of loved ones effectively reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, and promotes emotional/mental health. 


Red wine- high in the powerful antioxidant, resveratrol improves blood vessels’ integrity, eases joint pain by protecting cartilage, and slows age-related mental decline. Also, resveratrol helps decrease bad cholesterol (LDL) while increasing good cholesterol (HDL).


-Nutrition Facts for both: 5oz contains 4g CHO (1g sugar)


*Recommend a generous portion here!






Satisfies your sweet tooth and tops off glycogen stores. 


Pumpkin Pie 


Nutritional benefits – loaded with Vit A and a great source of beta-carotene, a carotenoid that your body converts into Vit A.


-Nutrition facts: 1 slice, 40g CHO, 7g Pro, 14g Fat


Pecan Pie – 


Nutritional benefits:  pecans are high in monounsaturated fats and phenolic antioxidants, which help reduce the risk of heart disease, high in B vitamins, and magnesium known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Add in the pie ingredients, and you end up with a different food – but that’s okay, it’s Thanksgiving. 


Nutrition facts: 1 slice, 63g CHO, 6g Pro, 27g Fat


So, on Thanksgiving Day, when you sit down at the table with friends and family, permit yourself to indulge without feeling shame around this one meal. And, for goodness sake, resist the urge to run off the calories tomorrow. 


Take a moment of gratitude for your health, for a body that allows you to go all those miles, and the ability to let go, let live and enjoy good food with good friends (with a mask!).


Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

2020 Thanksgiving Feast 2020 Thanksgiving Feast

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