Thanksgiving: Food for Body and Spirit


This Thursday is Thanksgiving, a time to celebrate togetherness with family, friends and of course, good food.  OncoPower Nutrition thought it would be fun and educational to highlight the nutritional qualities of common foods served during this harvest season. 


The traditional roast turkey is a protein powerhouse! A portion about the size of a deck of cards has 25 grams of muscle building protein, along with B-vitamins for energy and selenium, an antioxidant. Dark meat has more nutrients than white, so pick at least a little to get the most from each bite.

If you are going meatless this Thanksgiving, tofurkey is a good option. It provides a serving of whole soy food, excellent for breast cancer patients, and provides 5 grams of plant-based fiber. If you want to stick to something less processed, a hearty lentil or chickpea-based salad will also provide plant protein and fiber with less additives. These legumes and pulses provide great food for your gut bacteria, which can support your immune system, as well as your digestion!


Stuffing comes in many forms, but most are made with an onion, celery and herb base. Onions are alliums which are packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients that can help improve your immune function. Fresh or dried herbs like thyme and rosemary are also known for their immune boosting compounds – the more the better.

Mashed potatoes are a wonderful comfort food and if you are experiencing any treatment related symptoms, they can be a great option. With their bright orange color, sweet potatoes are a great source of Vitamin A plus their high fiber content means you won’t end up with high blood sugar after eating them. Try roasting with a light sauce of olive oil, syrup, and spices rather than loading them up with marshmallows to keep that blood sugar within a healthy range.


Any side dish that has a dark, rich color is going to be full of nutrition and cranberries fit nicely in this category. This tart treat packs more antioxidants into one cup than almost all other fruits and veggies! Collard greens, often sautéed with garlic, are a savory side dish with lots of nutrition. Falling into the cruciferous vegetable family, they have phytonutrients shown to protect against cancer. Green beans, a standby in many households, have high fiber content and may be a good choice if you find yourself gassy or having trouble digesting foods after starting cancer treatment.


It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, and that orange color is a giveaway that the vitamin A content is high, just like sweet potatoes. It is also a good source of vitamin C and potassium – consider your immune system boosted with a slice. Pecan pie, commonly eaten in the South around Thanksgiving, is full of calcium, potassium, and zinc plus antioxidants which may have anti-cancer effects. Remember that even when made with healthy ingredients, desserts are meant to be a treat – choose a slice of pie thats about as thick as three fingers to make sure you’re not getting too much sugar.

Having cancer or having a loved one who is going through treatment doesn’t mean that these Thanksgiving foods are off the menu. You can modify recipes so that any treatment-related symptoms don’t flare, and know that one day of indulgence won’t do any harm – it may even make you feel better in the long run. 

Holiday meals do so much more than nourish our bodies; they can lighten our moods, fill our spirits with love, and remind us to be grateful to those who support us day in and day out. This Thanksgiving, the team at OncoPower would like to thank all of our patients and oncologists for allowing us to be part of your cancer journey. Not a member yet? Join OncoPower and see how our tools can help you after a cancer diagnosis. 

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