The right breakfast will help you to make smarter choices throughout the day and still have room for Thanksgiving dinner. 

By Brigitt Earley
Updated October 09, 2015
Quinoa and Oat Porridge
Credit: Charles Masters

When that big meal is just hours away, it’s tempting to try to stave off hunger in order to save room for a plate full of turkey, all the fixings, and a big ol’ slice of pumpkin pie. But, if you’re planning to skip breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, you might want to rethink your approach: “Skipping meals, especially breakfast, can actually work against you,” says Elle Penner, R.D., head of nutrition at MyFitnessPal.

Why You Should Eat Breakfast (Even on Thanksgiving)

“Getting to the point of feeling starving is usually counterproductive,” says Torey Armul, R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “When we are starving it’s harder to make healthier choices because feeling hungry usually leads to irrational food choices. Our bodies are simply craving more fat, more sugar, and more calories.”

Grazing while you cook? Those calories add up quickly when you eat mindlessly throughout the day, because you aren’t paying attention to how much you’re consuming or how full you’re getting, says Penner. And, “even if you manage to resist the urge to graze, you’ll most likely be ravenous by turkey time, which makes you more likely to take bigger portions, eat faster and consume far more than you normally would—even on Thanksgiving.” This can leave you feeling sick to your stomach and even a bit regretful.

What You Should Be Eating

“Eating breakfast with protein is linked to increased fullness, fewer cravings, and decreased snacking at night,” says Armul. “Look for something with protein and fiber.”

The morning of, eat a light breakfast like plain yogurt with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of granola, or a hearty slice of avocado toast topped with a poached egg, suggests Penner.

And, adds Armul, load up on fruits and veggies (ideally half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables). On a holiday laden with carbohydrates and protein, loading up on fresh fruit and vegetables early in the day will help to ensure you still reach your daily quota.

If your turkey won’t hit the table until early afternoon, Penner suggests eating a hearty late-morning snack, like a 1-ounce serving of almonds paired with an apple, or a slice of whole grain bread topped with peanut butter and sliced banana. “By doing this you’ll be less likely to snack mindlessly throughout the day and completely overdo it come turkey time,” she explains.

How to Get Back on Track at Breakfast the Next Day

“Don’t let indulging in a big meal weigh you down mentally,” says Armul. “Feeling guilty doesn’t lead to healthier eating.” In fact, it’s often associated with a cycle of restricting and then binging, Armul explains: “Instead try to get back into your own routine, get active, load up on fruits and veggies... and watch the leftovers.”

Recipes to Try