With all the focus on overindulgence—of food and family—we often forget that Thanksgiving is, at heart, a day for giving thanks and being grateful. That said, let’s get back to the food. Some of us choose to “let go,” and eat whatever we want, giving ourselves myriad excuses: It’s tradition, it’s etiquette, it’s just so delicious! But Thanksgiving offers a bounty of ways to enjoy fresh, local vegetables, so while it’s okay to treat yourself, it’s also entirely possible to indulge but not overeat—and, even, put together an optimally nutritious Thanksgiving dinner that sacrifices neither taste nor holiday spirit.
Still, if you can, try to avoid flour and bread products, says John Bagnulo,PhD, MPH, who teaches nutrition in Kripalu’s Healthy Living programs. “This will significantly help reduce the tendency to overeat,” says John. “Grains and flour raise levels of leptin—the hormone that controls appetite and cravings—more than any other food after sugar.” We asked John to share his ideal grain- and cruelty-free Thanksgiving meal.