I love Thanksgiving because it’s such a foodie holiday. Not only that, Thanksgiving dinner is so easy to adapt in ways that makes it hormone-friendly while still being satisfying and delicious.
I’m going to share some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes below, but first I want to explain why the holidays can be so hard on our hormones—and how you can take steps to protect yourself.
Now if you read that last paragraph and started panicking because you think I’m about to tell you that you can’t have any of Aunt Julia’s famous caramel pecan pie at Thanksgiving dinner, you’re wrong! When you have a strategic plan for balancing your blood sugar, you can have the occasional sweet treat this holiday season and not feel rotten for weeks afterward.
In fact, the holidays become even more fun when you know that you have a strategy for enjoying traditional holiday food without worrying about the hormonal aftermath.
What The Holidays Do To Your Blood Sugar
So what is it about holiday eating and drinking that can cause crummy symptoms for days, weeks, and sometimes months?
It’s all about blood sugar. Balanced blood sugar (not too high or too low) is foundational for optimal hormonal health. When we have extra sweet treats at Thanksgiving, mulled wine all through December (alcohol is processed in the body like sugar), and even more treats (and booze) around the winter holidays and the New Year, it puts our blood sugar on an unhealthy roller coaster.
Your delicate endocrine system, which regulates your hormones, interprets mismanaged blood sugar as a stressor and signals your adrenals glands to respond by sending out a lot of cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline. Chronically mismanaged blood sugar, which is triggered by eating too many sweet treats (like we often do during the holiday months) causes your body to be in a constant state of fight-or-flight and sets your entire hormonal system off balance.
What’s more, all the extra glucose in your system (and all the insulin that your pancreas releases to deal with all that glucose) disrupts ovulation and interferes with the production of progesterone. This can lead to more estrogen in your body relative to progesterone, a condition called estrogen dominance.
Not just that, but fat cells secrete estrogen. The more sugar you eat, the more fat cells you have—and the more estrogen they secrete! This adds to the estrogen overload in your body.
How To Have Balanced Blood Sugar On Thanksgiving Day
So how can you enjoy holiday meals without sending your blood sugar soaring?
The secret is pre-planning. And that means being just as intentional about your Thanksgiving breakfast as your Thanksgiving dinner. The right breakfast will set you up for blood sugar success, whether the meal is one you’re making or at someone else’s home.
A Good Thanksgiving Breakfast
- 2 eggs in coconut oil
- AND some steel cut oatmeal
- AND steamed kale with olive oil
Pre Thanksgiving Noon Snack
Dinner usually doesn’t start until 3pm, but waiting that long to eat ensures you’ll be hypoglycemic and will trigger major carb cravings!
- Avocado smashed on Food for Life gluten-free toast with added chia seeds, sesame seeds and Himalayan salt.
Hormone-friendly, Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes
Over the many years that I have been living in my Flo, I have created go-to recipes that have become traditions for my Thanksgiving table.
First up, the turkey question – I usually roast a turkey breast rolled with a stuffing of roasted chestnuts, celery, onions, and herbs.
But I also usually like to prepare a lentil loaf (here’s a great recipe) and I make a mushroom gravy to go over the top (here’s an easy recipe, although use coconut or wholegrain flour instead of all-purpose).
Then on to the sides – which is where I feel I really shine! Instead of the hormonally hazardous mashed potatoes and bread stuffing or sauce, I make very simple, fresh vegetable blends. I love roasted brussel sprouts and cauliflower mash, but my specialty is something I call “smashed roots.” Delicious.
My alternative to mashed potatoes
- 3 large sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
- 2 turnips peeled and cubed
- 1 celery root peeled and cubed
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt
- 4 T olive oil or more!
Prepare all veggies. In a large pot place 3 inches of water and a steamer basket. Steam all veggies, one root at a time. Smash everything together with the olive oil and salt in your serving bowl and enjoy.
Baked parsnips and fennel and green beans
My alternative to the usual bean casserole
- 2 bulbs fennel sliced into ½ inch slices
- 6 parsnips quartered
- 1 lb of green beans trimmed
- ½ tsp Himalayan salt
- 2 T olive oil
Prepare all veggies. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring one medium pot of salted water to boil. Drop parsnips into boiling water for 5 min and place into your casserole/baking dish. In same pot of water, boil green beans for 5 min or until just tender. Finally, blanch the fennel in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Mix everything together with the olive oil and salt in the baking dish and place into the oven. Let roast for 20 minutes until everything is golden and the green beans have a caramelized look to the skin.
I have to say, my cranberry sauce recipe is amazing – it’s the best one I’ve ever tried. Give it a go! No sugar, of course, but it tastes just as good.
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 1 tablespoon of honey
Roasted herby holiday nuts
How about avoiding the usual cheese and cracker trap with a good appetizer? I have you covered. I love this appetizer and it’s often part of what I take to a dinner at someone else’s home or a potluck or holiday party. It’s really an all-round crowd pleaser.
- 1 1/2 cups almonds
- 1 1/2 cups walnut halves
- 1 cup hazelnuts
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 1/2 cup coconut nectar or honey
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh savory leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- About 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
Mix almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, maple syrup, cayenne, oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary, savory, marjoram, and oil in a 10- by 15-inch rimmed pan. Sprinkle nuts with 1 teaspoon salt. Bake in a 300° oven, stirring occasionally, until all liquid evaporates and nuts are golden under the skin (break open to test), about 45 minutes. Let cool.
Apple and cranberry fruit cobbler
No skipping dessert today. It’s the holidays, after all.
Instead of pumpkin pie, I opt for a cobbler which satisfies both its sweetness and crunch.
- 4 apples, cored, sliced
- ½ bag of frozen or fresh cranberries
- juice of ½ lemon
- ½ tsp cinnamon, pinch of salt
- 2 T coconut oil
- 1 tsp arrowroot
Combine all the ingredients in a 14 inch casserole baking dish. Sprinkle gluten free/sugar free plain granola on top (Udi’s or Elizabeth’s). Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 for 30 min covered. Let sit 15 minutes uncovered and cool. Serve with fresh mint and coconut yogurt or a drizzle of honey.
Being A Thanksgiving Guest
If I’m going to Thanksgiving at someone else’s home, I will bring my roasted nut appetizer with me and, usually, also the cobbler. This means I have something to snack on and a healthy dessert, so I skip the cheese and crackers and the pies. I can easily have the turkey and vegetable sides while avoiding the mashed potatoes and bread stuffing, without seeming difficult.
I have been known to bring my own raw sweet potato to a party, though, I must confess, and quietly steam it prior to dinner so I have a filling, hormone-friendly carb to go with my turkey and veggies
The Flo-fix For Thanksgiving Overindulgence
Say all does not go according to plan and you need to offset your foodie indulgences…maybe you found it hard to avoid what your host was serving up.
Here’s how to reset and get your hormones back in balance. If you’ve had a drink as part of the festivities, follow my tried-and-true plan here to hold down your hangover and minimize the hormonal damage. If your indulgences were only food related, then see my effective 3-step plan for the next day:
- Eat a good breakfast (see above!) but keep it super light the rest of the day. Add some turmeric to those eggs and avo toast. This will smooth out your blood sugar and slow inflammation.
- Have a green juice (½ cup mango, ½ a green apple, 1/2 cup frozen pineapple, 1/2 cup coconut water, 1 cup of cilantro and blend!) and a green salad with leftover turkey slices for lunch. Have a side order of a fresh apple. Add some sauerkraut to that turkey salad to get your probiotics in and further heal inflammation.
- Take a shot of apple cider vinegar. Sip on hot water and lemon throughout the rest of the day. These will work to emulsify those fats.
Always remember, once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!