Stop and embrace your family’s culinary traditions this Thanksgiving

All year long, I look forward to enjoying our traditional Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings. But this time of year can be especially difficult if you follow a restricted diet that eliminates whole categories of healthy foods, such as dairy, meat, and seafood.

Of course, some misguided nutritional “experts” continuously insist that we should avoid these foods all year round, despite what the science shows.

And honestly, I never really understood why these supposedly well-trained professionals would willingly deliver such bad dietary advice. That is, until I ran across a very illuminating study about their backgrounds…

Dieticians have unhealthy attitudes and behaviors about food

Registered dietician nutritionists receive specialized nutritional training to learn how to develop optimal, healthy meal plans for clients. But a recent study suggests they may not follow healthy diets themselves!

For this study, researchers looked at the incidence of orthorexia nervosa (ON) and eating disorders in 2,500 registered dieticians. ON is a type of eating disorder that includes symptoms of obsessive-compulsive behavior in the pursuit of a healthy diet.

Researchers gave the dieticians two standard eating disorder questionnaires. Then, they evaluated the presence of ON based on reported eating behaviors, concerns about body shape and weight, and dietary restraints and restrictions.

Overall, they found that a staggering 50 percent of dieticians were at high risk for ON and 13 percent were at risk for a generalized eating disorder. Plus, 8 percent of the dieticians disclosed having been diagnosed with a medical eating disorder.

Both those at high risk for ON and those who received prior treatment for an eating disorder had lower body mass indexes (BMIs). And those with ON symptoms appeared to have disturbances in eating and increased concerns about body shape and weight.

Clearly, a little bit of knowledge—coupled with a lot of ignorance about real nutritional science—can be dangerous, especially when motivated by unhealthy, obsessive-compulsive attitudes about food and eating.

More and more Americans adopt restrictive diets

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, it seems that more and more people in the U.S. feel the need to adopt restrictive diets that eliminate whole categories of foods. So, enjoying a simple, well-balanced, traditional meal can be the ultimate ordeal for them…and for those all around them.

In fact, some years ago, I recall going out to a wonderful seafood restaurant with a colleague who was visiting us with his wife on the seashore in the summer.

Despite the fresh, healthy menu on display that evening, my colleague’s wife was following some kind of self-imposed restricted diet. So, instead of ordering something real, local, hearty, and fresh, she ordered a nondescript salad, without an ounce of fat or protein.

Naturally, she felt unsatisfied after finishing her “meal.” So, she kept snatching portions of real food from her husband’s plate, then my plate, and even the children’s plates (which weren’t at all filled with the healthiest of ingredients, by the way).

Embrace your family’s traditions

I was raised in a large French-Italian family. And we thoroughly enjoyed preparing, serving, and enjoying traditional, wholesome foods. Especially around the holidays.

Thankfully, as a result, I developed a healthy, positive, affirmative attitude about enjoying good, fresh food that came straight from the field to the local market to our kitchen. I know many other cultures around the world enjoy similar, long-standing traditions.

So, as we approach the holidays, skip the complicated, restrictive dietary advice doled out by misguided “experts” who, after all, often have unhealthy attitudes about food themselves. Instead, embrace your family’s wholesome holiday traditions, which probably includes:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Fruits
  • Fresh herbs and spices
  • Full-fat, organic dairy (including whole milk, cheeses, yogurt, and butter)
  • Nuts
  • Grass-fed and free-range meats
  • Wild-caught fish and seafood
  • Seeds
  • Vegetables
  • Wine, beer, and spirits (in moderation)

These foods and beverages were meant to be enjoyed not just during the holidays…but all year long! So go ahead and “indulge” by eating a sensible, enjoyable diet full of whole foods this holiday season—and throughout the New Year.

And tune back all week long to my Daily Dispatches for more about my favorite Thanksgiving traditions. Tomorrow, I’ll share with you my family’s traditional cranberry sauce recipe.

P.S. Subscribers to my monthly Insiders’ Cures newsletters already stay current on all of the health benefits a whole-food diet can provide. So if you haven’t already, consider signing up today! As a subscriber, you’ll also have access to a special report called The “Top-of-the-Food Chain” Cure for Obesity. Simply log in to the “Subscribers” tab on my website and scroll down to the right-hand sidebar titled, “Library of Confidential Cures.”


“Orthorexia Nervosa and Eating Disorder Symptoms in Registered Dietitian Nutritionists in the United States,” J Acad Nutr Diet. 2017 Oct;117(10):1612-1617