These Thanksgiving Foods Give You Energy & You’ll Need It After All The Mashed Potatoes
When I was growing up, we did things a little differently on Thanksgiving. Since my mom's from Cuba, she decided to put her own spin on the classic turkey and stuffing combo by filling the inside of the meat with black beans and rice instead of following the usual recipe. We also eat other non-traditional foods like shrimp and mounds of guacamole on the big day, which I love. Whether your family also makes their own food traditions or sticks to the standard spread, it's always a good idea to include Thanksgiving foods that give you energy on your Turkey Day table. That way, you can Black Friday-shop 'til you drop, join in a family football game in the backyard, or just stay awake long enough to gossip on the couch with your favorite cousin.
BTW, this definitely doesn't mean waving goodbye to your beloved sweet potato casserole, or any of the other Thanksgiving staples you know and love. If energy levels are a priority for you, says holistic health coach Erin Wathen, consider picking your favorite carb-heavy dish instead of filling your entire plate with potatoes or pie. "Be sure to eat it with the rest of your meal as to not suck all of your energy," she tells Elite Daily in an email.
An overall word of advice is to really savor every dish. "Allowing yourself to truly be in the moment, eating mindfully and keeping the holiday’s spirit of gratitude in your thoughts, may actually help you avoid overeating," says Shauna McQueen, MS, RD, a nutrition curriculum developer at Integrative Nutrition, "so you can leave the table feeling revitalized rather than ready to crash."
Along with fluffy rolls or the creamiest macaroni salad imaginable, here are some delicious Thanksgiving foods to savor this holiday.
Enjoy all the crudités
Personally, I tend to think of a colorful crudité platter as a mere vehicle for getting as much ranch or spinach dip as I can stomach into my mouth. But those raw veggies are actually a great energy source, according to Wathen, so eat up.
"Aim to fill your plate with at least 50 percent green vegetables," she tells Elite Daily — and be willing to make some veggie-centric dishes of your own, she adds, if you don't think you'll have many options at the meal.
Don't be scared of the turkey
Contrary to popular belief the star bird of Thanksgiving doesn't have to totally drain you. "Yes, turkey is high in tryptophan, which can tire us after the meal," explains Rachel Fine, MS, RD, CSSD, CDN, a registered dietitian and owner of To The Pointe Nutrition. "However, I don’t suggest avoiding the main part of Thanksgiving just because you want more energy."
Instead, she suggests, make sure you're not falling into the common cycle of eating too little in the days leading up to Thanksgiving "in preparation" for the big meal. Keep your eating routine balanced and healthy, she tells Elite Daily, and you won't be so hungry on the holiday that you eat an entire platter of turkey.
Go to town on the sweet potatoes
"Since carbs are the body’s most efficient fuel source, a great option would be sweet potato-based dishes, such as sweet potato pie or casserole," says Fine.
Of course, eating only carbs might cause you to doze off, so be sure to eat mindfully to guarantee you don't accidentally put yourself in a food coma.
Turn up the beets
Root vegetables like beets often join the Thanksgiving table either in a roasted veggie blend or on top of a fresh salad. According to Runner's World, beets are packed with nitrates, "which the body ultimately converts to nitric oxide, shown to improve oxygen flow to the muscles." In other words, Dwight Schrute's favorite food will definitely help you stay awake after all of those mashed potatoes.
Tbh, eat whatever you want
The energy suck you might experience after a Thanksgiving feast usually has more to do with the portion sizes than with the actual foods, according to Wathen. "When we refer [to] the lack of energy, we are referring to the over-stuffed feeling we get when our portions are too big, the bloat from too many starchy carbohydrates, and the rush of high blood sugar from the carbs and inevitable crash," she tells Elite Daily.
Regardless of how these foods affect your body, or which ones ultimately wind up on your Thanksgiving plate, the real key to a healthy relationship with food is not letting yourself feel guilty about the decisions you make during the meal, says Kathleen Meehan MS, RD, LDN, a non-diet dietitian based in Houston, Texas.
"It's entirely OK to eat more than you need on Thanksgiving, if that's what you want to do or if it's simply what happens," Meehan tells Elite Daily. "But, if you'd prefer to stop eating at a place where you feel comfortable, it's helpful to give yourself permission that you can always have more later when you get hungry again."
After all, the leftovers might even be the best part of Thanksgiving.