Should You Skip Breakfast on Thanksgiving?

While it's tempting to skip breakfast, health experts encourage eating something small to start your metabolism. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

When it comes to doing Thanksgiving right, there's one important question that's just begging to be answered: should you waste precious stomach space by eating breakfast?

Yes, according to Dr. Rekha Kumar, who specializes in endocrinology and weight management at the New York Presbyterian Hospital.

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"I think a common mistake is not eating the entire day with the plan to overeat everything you can at the Thanksgiving meal," she said, explaining that most people don't even enjoy the aftermath of a turkey-stuffing-sweet potato-pumpkin pie binge.


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Instead, she thinks it's best to relinquish the quantity over quality mentality and only eat the things that appeal to you. So if you're meh about mashed potatoes but could eat five servings of green bean casserole, it might be best to redirect your appetite towards foods that offer the most pleasure.

Aside from staving off binges, eating breakfast will start your metabolism for the day, helping you burn off more of that whopping 3,000-calorie meal, as estimated by the American Council on Exercise. Plus, skipping meals is sort of a mean trick to your body, which is anticipating breakfast, according to molecular biologist and registered dietitian-nutritionist Lina Begdache of Binghamton University in New York. "If your body is used to eating at certain times and you skip those meals, your brain is going to think that you're not getting food," she said. "Then your brain will release chemicals that it's hungry. Once you reach a certain threshold, you're going to feel like you're starving."

This of course, causes that inevitable binge.

Kumar advises starting the day with a light, protein-filled meal, like an egg white and vegetable omelet or Greek yogurt with fruit.


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To keep your body running optimally, Begdache says there's a more draconian approach: fasting for a 13-hour stretch before Thanksgiving.

Begdache explains this helps the system rid itself of toxic materials. Ideally, your last meal would be around 6 or 7 p.m. on Wednesday night and no food would be consumed until breakfast on Thanksgiving Day. Constantly nibbling produces free radicals in the cell, which are eliminated when our body gets a break from the onslaught of nutrients.

"This complete fasting means we're not getting any new nutrients inside the cell so the cell has time to regenerate and fix issues," she said.

And if you're not using Thanksgiving as an excuse to forego every healthy habit, both experts recommend exercising, which will help you burn more calories throughout the day.

"I would say if you work out earlier in the day you're at an advantage metabolism-wise," said Kumar.

Or you could just go rogue and try to set a new record for most calories consumed in a single meal.