When you’re looking forward to a roasted feast, you’ve probably wondered—is it okay to skip breakfast or lunch, before the big meal? It’s tempting to fast all morning, to leave extra room for stuffing and mashed potatoes. But in general, studies show that eating a good breakfast can improve mental performance and lower stress levels and control hunger later in the day. On Thanksgiving in particular, you might enjoy activities and time with family and friends even more, if you don’t spend the hours leading up to the event famished.
Step one to a healthy, happy holiday: Eat a real breakfast. “It’s important to start out Thanksgiving day with a balanced breakfast,” says Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, CSCS, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Skipping meals and saving up for dinner may sound like a good idea, but it can end up backfiring. You may be so ravenous by the time dinner comes around that you’ll end up eating way more calories than you need.”
Rumsey recommends eating a breakfast that includes protein and fiber, to keep you full for longer, followed by a small snack a few hours before the main event. The best Thanksgiving breakfasts are made in minutes, eaten out of a single bowl or hand, and don’t dirty another pan—busy cooks will thank you! Chew on these healthy ideas, to start the day off right.
Whole-wheat toast with avocado toast & egg. Avocado toast is loaded with healthy fiber and fats. Put an egg on it for protein and staying power.
Whole-wheat toast with almond butter & banana. Is there an easier, lazier breakfast option than toast? Make it whole-grain, add nut butter for healthy fats, and pile fruit on top.
Half a whole-wheat bagel with smoked salmon & cucumber. Half a bagel is probably all the calories you need. Add smoked fish and fresh veggies, like cucumber, tomatoes, or sprouts.
Oatmeal with apples & pecans. Heart-healthy oats and sweet autumn apples make a cozy porridge with plenty of fiber. Throw them into a slow cooker the night before, and top with a tablespoon of chopped nuts in the morning.
Greek yogurt with figs & granola. Low- or nonfat dairy pumps up the protein. Add a generous serving of seasonal fruit and a sprinkle of granola for crunch.
A green smoothie. Get a clean start with a perfectly balanced smoothie, jamming in a handful of greens for antioxidants, and a dollop of yogurt for protein.
You’ll be especially grateful for a healthy start if you’re fueling up for a turkey trot, touch football game, or a marathon day of cooking. But no matter what your plans are for the holiday, drink lots of water, and get some extra steps in! Even if that’s just a walk around the neighborhood with your mom and the family dog.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.