How To Create A Thanksgiving Dinner Your Skin Will Love
Thanksgiving is synonymous with overindulgence. But what goes on your plate doesn’t have to screw up your skin. You just need to make good menu choices.
It’s time to be grateful for everything life has thrown at you this year. Sure, it’s been a tough one, but you’re here and you’re alive, so don’t take that for granted.
Thanksgiving is a time for friends, family and reflection. But it’s also a day to eat a little too much – which, frankly, is one of the things we love about it ;) So sue us.
The thing about overindulging, however, is that you often wake up the next day and totally regret it when faced with what’s staring back at you in the mirror. An excess of salt, sugar, processed foods and refined carbs (coupled with one too many pinot noirs) can make your skin puffy, dull, dry and dehydrated. And depending on what you’ve gorged on and how your body reacts to certain foods, your skin might even break out or certain conditions like eczema or rosacea could flare-up.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, people, because there's plenty of good stuff involved in your Thanksgiving dinner your skin totally loves. So, if you’re concerned about morning-after skin, cut down on your mashed potatoes and overload your dinner plate with the following…
As long as you don’t brine it in a ton of salt, turkey is an excellent source of nutrients. It’s high in zinc and selenium, packed with protein and fairly low in fat. Together, zinc and protein play a vital role in the production and maintenance of your valuable collagen and elastin fibers which, as you know, are the backbones of healthy skin. Zinc also helps speed up cell turnover and may even keep your sebaceous glands in check so they don’t overproduce oil and make oily skin look super shiny.
Selenium, meanwhile, is a powerful antioxidant so it works hard to fight off damaging free radicals and protect your skin from inflammation and cellular damage. Gotta love that.
Finally, turkey is a great source of niacin (vitamin B3) which not only lends another helping hand in the production of healthy collagen and elastin, but also reduces inflammation and strengthens your barrier function to keep your skin hydrated and healthy (*immediately increases turkey order to largest bird possible).
There’s literally no part of your body that doesn’t benefit from a diet that’s rich in leafy greens like kale, chard, bok choi and spinach. Rich in chlorophyll – which gives them their beautiful, dark green pigment – leafy greens are critical for your heart, circulation, thyroid, the works. And your skin is no exception.
Greens have powerful anti-inflammatory properties so they’re an awesome choice if you suffer with inflammatory skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema and facial redness. They also contain a bunch of vitamins, minerals and nutrients including vitamins A, C, K and B9 (otherwise known as folic acid). Vitamin B9 helps build proteins in the skin and can also help reduce congestion so is super important for acne-prone complexions.
Looking for the biggest superhero of them all to add to your Thanksgiving feast? Then kale is your guy; it’s one of the most nutrient-dense veggies in the world. No exaggeration.
While white potatoes are certainly not terrible for you (they’re packed with potassium), sweet potatoes win hands down when it comes to the glycemic index (GI). What does this mean? Well, according to the Mayo Clinic, the glycemic index is a way of assigning carbs a number depending on how much they increase your blood sugar levels. Low is good, high is not so good. High GI foods include things like white rice, white bread, pasta and the aforementioned potatoes.
Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, have a relatively low GI, especially if you boil them and keep the skin on for extra fiber. They’re also rich in healing magnesium plus antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A). This makes sweet potatoes ideal for preventing pesky signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots and sagging skin. Just don’t mash them up with oodles of butter and bake them with sugar-laded marshmallows – as tempting as that may be…
What’s Thanksgiving dinner without a good dollop of cranberry sauce? Well, good news, folks: cranberries are not only good for helping you lose weight and keep your heart in check, but they’re chock-full of polyphenols. Polyphenols are awesome antioxidants which aid in the ongoing war against skin-damaging free radicals. Free radicals are devils when it comes to breaking down collagen and elastin, so if you want to maintain your healthiest skin ever and help minimize unwanted lines, wrinkles and dark spots, antioxidants should be your BFFs. Evidence shows that cranberries have more free-radical neutralizing antioxidants than any other fruit or veggie out there. Take that, kale!
Cranberries are also full of vitamins C, E and K, packed with dietary fiber and are a decent source of calcium, manganese, amino acids and iron.
We recommend making your own cranberry sauce to control the amount of sugar – you could also try adding honey or maple syrup instead of white, refined sugar.
Finally, let’s get a little nutty for a hot minute because we all know how great nuts are for your skin and overall health. But what’s the deal with pecans, in particular? Well, for starters they contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals including healing zinc and strengthening calcium, along with plenty of fiber and a good amount of protein. As you know, fiber is great for your digestive health, but it also works hard to process and eliminate toxic waste which goes a long way to helping keep your skin healthy and glowing.
Pecans also contain ellagic acid which is… guess what? Yes, say hello to yet another effective antioxidant. Ellagic acid, along with vitamins A, C and E is perfect for protecting your skin from oxidative stress and promoting collagen production. It’s also an anti-inflammatory so can be helpful in soothing and calming stressed out skin – which can be a real bugbear during the holidays when the pressure of the perfect day can be a tad overwhelming.
Now, time to get cooking folks… and happy Thanksgiving to both you and your skin.
About Georgia Gould
Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.