With Thanksgiving only a few days away, a majority of the country is looking forward to a cozy night around the table with family and friends, lots of wine and second (or third!) helpings of turkey, mashed potatoes and pie. But as we inch closer to the end of November and thus closer to the holiday season, there is one major concern weighing on nutritionists' minds.
"Thanksgiving dinner is reportedly the largest eating event in the United States, with people eating more than on any other day of the year," explained registered nutritionist Hannah Braye to AOL Lifestyle. "The traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce and potatoes isn’t necessarily unhealthy, especially if cooked from scratch and accompanied by lots of veggies. However, the issue is usually the volume that people eat."
From the spike in blood sugar to the high cholesterol, overindulging in Thanksgiving foods can lead to the rise of certain health complications -- those who already battling conditions like high cholesterol, diabetes or heart complications should especially take note.
"Over-eating will significantly increase calorie intake, so if you are trying to lose weight, it’s best not to over-indulge. Your stomach has to physically expand to accommodate the additional volume, potentially leading to discomfort," Braye maintained. "There is also an increased need for stomach acid, digestive enzymes and bile in order to break down the food. If the digestive system can’t keep up with demand, this can have a negative impact on digestive symptoms."
Braye did clarify that unless you suffer from health complications, these changes "should return to normal levels after a few hours," and overeating should not be a common occurrence for anyone.
While there are ways to detox after a big meal, like staying well hydrated, eating more fiber and looking after your microbiome (Braye suggests a quality probiotic like Bio-Kult Advanced Multi-Strain Formulation), there are also ways to ensure you're enjoying the holiday without overindulging.
"To prevent over-eating, it can be useful to practice mindful eating habits to help you slow down and tune in to satiety (fullness) signals being sent from the gut to the brain," Braye explained. "Eating off a smaller plate can sometimes help trick the brain into eating less food, as well as putting your cutlery down between mouthfuls, chewing your food well, and turning off distractions such as the TV, computer or your phone."
The ultimate list of Thanksgiving recipes
The ultimate list of Thanksgiving recipes
Warm Quinoa Brussels Sprouts Salad
"Lots of texture and lots of flavor in this festive quinoa brussels sprouts salad. Who said salad can’t be the center of attention at Thanksgiving dinner?" - Sweet and Savory
"This year, if you're looking for a lighter version of the classic green bean casserole try my recipe for a lighter (but no less delicious!) salad version, complete with creamy (but not naughty) garlic dressing." - Holly Likes to Cook
"Black-Eyed Peas! What a weird name… But oh so tasty! And incredibly good for you too. These delicious beans (yes, they’re actually beans!) are a great source of protein and fiber while also rich in Potassium, Zinc and Iron!" - Olivia's Cuisine
Jicama Cabbage Salad with Spicy Maple Pecans and Pomegranate
"This is a perfect Thanksgiving salad or side dish, and the ideal way to brighten any table. It also travels very well—I ate it on the road up to San Francisco, in a pre-Friendsgiving frenzy of jicama gratitude." - Kale and Caramel
Roasted Delicata Squash Salad with Cinnamon-Toasted Hazelnuts and Pomegranate
"Of all the possible addictions that people battle, I think winter squash might just take the cake for strangest. But really, I admit 100% that I’m an addict and I may or may not need help." - An Edible Mosaic
" I think this salad can go a lot of different ways as long as you keep the spinach and vinaigrette in place. What I mean is anything else you put in there from a vegetable stand point would work just fine." - Billy Parisi
"Of all the orange squashes, Kabocha squash is my favorite! It is known for its sweet flavor and is a staple ingredient in Asian dishes. Kabocha squash bursts with bright orange color and brings life and color to your kitchen." - Colorful Eats
Arugula and Farro Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese
"I’ve been craving salads like no other. So yesterday, I took a brief timeout from crumbles and chicken wing experiments to make myself this Arugula and Farro Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese." - Domesticate Me
"Putting this together is simple – you start by cooking the Bulghur Wheat which is as easy as pouring boiling water over it and then walking away. Wash, dry, and chop up your herbs and vegetables, then toss it all together in a bowl with some lemon juice, olive oil, and salt." - The Wanderlust Kitchen
"This recipe may seem vaguely familiar, well at lease most of the ingredients. They’re the same ones used in our goat cheese pastry. Except this time we swapped out the pastry for squash, a much healthier alternative." - Public Lives Secret Recipes
"The recipe is easy, whole food-based, results in a delicious melange of flavors (buttery pecans! sweet maple! fresh herbs! tart cranberries!), looks beautiful on your holiday table, and transitions well from being a substantive main to a delightful side. Add these to your rotation – you won’t be sorry." - The Little Foxes
"BEER BREAD MUFFINS, my absolute favorite easy bread recipe! These fun little muffins taste like a comforting loaf of beer bread. They’re the ultimate addition to any meal, especially Thanksgiving!" - The Cookie Rookie
"Hands down, my favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table is the stuffing! My grandmother knew this about me early on in life and started making an extra pan of stuffing every year for the holiday’s just so that I could eat my weight in it." - Beard and Bonnet
"Sweet from the cider but with a bit of zing from the lime and ginger beer and dash of spice from the cinnamon – these tasted like fall in a mug. Oh – and couldn’t be easier to make." - The Steele Maiden
"An Italian twist to your typical fry is what I was craving all of a sudden. Almond parmesan quickly came to mind, but I decided to put my own spin on it, so Hemp Almond Parmesan was born!" - Veggies Don't Bite
"I ate these Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes right out of the stove, without anything accompanying it. Zero, zip, nada! Just mashed potato heaven in my mouth with a touch of funky deliciousness!" - Olivia's Cuisine
"This easy-to-make twist on oven-roasted potatoes uses baby gold potatoes that have been steamed until tender, smashed into little patties and brushed with a combination of melted butter and truffle oil." - My Gourmet Connection
"Roasted garlic mashed sweet potatoes and carrots is the perfect side dish to serve this fall. It has a slight sweetness that is counteracted by garlic, and is so creamy and delicious that you will be begging for seconds and thirds!" - Cooking and Beer
"These little potato cakes are one of my fondest memories/lessons because I think they were one of the first things I was genuinely excited to learn how to make.They're a vehicle for flavor, so in the spirit of my father, experiment to find the combinations that work best for your palate." - Fix Feast Flair
"What I know for sure is that the pumpkin always comes out of the oven looking and tasting scrumptious. This has by far become one of my favorite things to serve for guests; the look of surprise that comes over them when this hits the table is reason enough." - JJ Begonia
"The smoked paprika and chili powder in the seasoning rub made the skin a crack-like combo of sticky, smoky spices. And the meat itself could not have been moister, thanks to the three-hour trip to the oven on low heat." - Feed Me Phoebe
"Perfect Roast Chicken served with simple, melted herb butter is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is Perfect Roast Chicken is so easy to make and so mouth-watering perfect, there is no longer a need to purchase rotisserie chicken from your favorite grocer." - Simply Sated
"A super-spiced, pizzazz-packed pumpkin pie filling sweetened with maple syrup, and topped with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon-toasted pecans, this Pumpkin Pecan Pie puts the classic Libby’s recipe to shame." - Well Plated
"There’s nothing quite so fine as a bubbling berry crumble, especially when baked in mini cast iron skillets with plenty of golden crumb topping (my motto: you can never have too much crumble)." - Tutti Dolci
Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cake with Brown Butter Buttercream
"This cake is the ideal combination of fall flavors, in my book. Super moist pumpkin cake filled to the brim with cinnamon, ginger and cloves. And sorry bout it, but there is no other word to describe a perfect pumpkin cake." - The Whole Bite
"I thought how fun it would be to turn Thanksgiving’s stuffing into cupcakes, topped with light and fluffy mashed potatoes, a well of vegetarian gravy and lightly sprinkled with minced parsley." - Fork and Beans
"We’re not making baked apples nearly as often as we should. I know this. For fact. It’s just not a go-to dessert and I’d like to change that. First, because it is next-level deliciousness. Second, because it’s one of the easiest desserts you’ll ever make." - Displaced Housewife
Pecan-Pumpkin Bread with Chai Cream Cheese Frosting
"Do you love the spices of a chai tea? I do, too – they’re so warming and comforting! I’ve added that flavor and feeling to a sweet treat: Pecan-Pumpkin Bread with Chai Cream Cheese Frosting – something good you can cozy up to this season!" - Grab A Plate
"These apple cranberry crescent rolls take crescent rolls to another level. They are also the perfect way to use up that leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving or Christmas." - Craftaholics Anonymous
"Call it portion control or just an aesthetic preference, but everything looks better in mini. I’m sure if you pressed me I’d find some exceptions to this rule, but for these pumpkin pies it applies." - Prosecco and Plaid
"The joy of crumbles is that they are the baking leftover equivalent of a cottage pie. Toss it all in, don’t be shy. But do be mindful of pits, stems, seeds and fruit that is too over ripe." - Kitchen Living with Coryanne