The holiday season
can be tough on your diet. The candy from Halloween, the Christmas and Hanukkah feasts, and the Chinese food on New Year's Eve can all undo your healthy eating intentions . . . and even prolong them until spring starts. Perhaps the most unhealthy
holiday dinner, however, is that of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is a holiday where families come together to gorge on table-fulls of delicious (and fatty) foods until they are stuffed (much like the Turkey the holiday revolves around!) . . . and where leftovers can last for more than a few days
. Was Thanksgiving Day always this bad for us? Actually, the first years of celebrating Thanksgiving, especially the very first Thanksgiving Day, included a much different, more sensible menu than our own.
While our modern day Thanksgiving Day is more heavily focused on the food aspect and family unity, the English colonists celebrated “thanksgiving days” regularly as part of their religion, and had a bigger emphasis on prayers, not big feasts. The beginning of Thanksgiving as an American holiday began in the autumn of 1621, when the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe celebrated the colony's first successful harvest.
If one compared our current Thanksgiving Day menu to that of the first harvest feast, one would find that very little of what we eat is similar to the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving feast. For starters, no turkeys were eaten. The Pilgrims ate meats such as duck, geese, venison, and sometimes swan. There was only enough food to feed about half of the 102 colonists, so the Native Americans taught the Pilgrims how to fish. It is because of these lessons that the Pilgrims were able to include fish, lobster, mussels, eel and clams to their feast. As for foods that were grown, things like pumpkin, squash, corn, cabbage, grapes, plums, berries and dried fruits were all included in the original Thanksgiving dinner.
On the contrary, our modern feasts almost always include turkeys, sugary cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and many other items that are a far cry from the wholesome foods
our founding fathers' ancestors ate. We have unnecessary, highly unhealthy creations like the turducken
, which is a chicken stuffed inside a duck, which is in turn stuffed inside a turkey.
Is all of this excessive eating a sign that perhaps we are taking things for granted? With obesity becoming a common disease in many American households, perhaps a new Thanksgiving Day tradition should be adopted that returns to the humble roots of the original harvest feast and hearty foods.