Thanksgiving dinner is one of those moments where it's more than okay to help yourself to everything. And you shouldn't feel guilty, either—your dinner plate is packed with nutritional goodness that'll keep your body in tip-top dancing shape. Dance Spirit spoke with Peggy Swistak, MS, RDN, CD, of Pacific Northwest Ballet, about the bountiful benefits of the most popular turkey-day dishes.
A small portion of white meat turkey (sans skin) is packed with healthy, low-fat protein that'll give you the energy boost you need to hit the studio post-holiday.
If there are green vegetables on the table, Swistak encourages you to load up your plate! “Green veggies are filled with polyphenols," she says. These compounds, which are found in natural plant sources, have been proven to reduce inflammation and help prevent cancer. Don't know which veggies to pick? According to Swistak, one delicious option is steamed Brussels sprouts—they're a great source of immune-system–boosting antioxidants and vitamin C, and filled with fiber to help regulate your digestive system. Green beans are another tasty low-calorie, high-fiber choice.
Sweet potatoes hit the spot, and Swistak encourages dancers to enjoy one: “A roasted or baked sweet potato is high in fiber, antioxidants and vitamin A." White potatoes are another great option. They're filled with potassium to help promote muscle strength and
bone health. Make sure to keep the skin on—it's full of nutrients, too.
According to Swistak, a scoop of homemade cranberry sauce goes a long way. This superfood is a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants.
It's not Thanksgiving without dessert! Swistak recommends pumpkin pie, which is lower in fat than other pie varieties and high in vitamin A and fiber.