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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. People everywhere are looking forward to spending time with those they care about, revisiting their favorite holiday traditions, and, of course, sitting down for a large multi-course meal. But with large meals comes large digestive responsibilities. The good news is you can enjoy a more health-conscious Thanksgiving dinner.

A Health-Conscious Thanksgiving Dinner

While it is easy to overindulge during Thanksgiving, Dr. Hassanein, a world-renowned liver specialist, founder of the Southern California Liver & GI Center, and digestive expert has devised a quick list of 5 easy tips for a health-conscious Thanksgiving dinner.

Here’s what to do:

1) Moderation is key

Overeating is common during the holidays, but not recommended. Overeating proteins that are particularly rich in certain amino acids, like tryptophan, can cause a sense of fatigue and sleepiness, particularly in individuals with liver disease. Animal fats and proteins are things that your body has trouble digesting – fruits and vegetables, have no limit.

2) Watch the Clock

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The duration of eating is also important – events like Thanksgiving should be extended, and not rushed. People can sit and finish their plate in 10 minutes, or it can take an hour or so to get the entire meal.

Shoveling in animal fats is a lot of pressure on the stomach, and it will not digest all foods the same way.

3) Stay Awake

The stomach can take up to SIX hours to fully digest a meal, especially a hefty one like Thanksgiving. You want to give at least 5 hours between the meal and going to bed.

Dinner should start early, giving at least 4-6 hours minimum between eating and sleeping.

4) Stay on your schedule

The body has been customized to deal with food at certain times that your own routine has created. For example, if someone always eats around 5:00, then don’t make your Thanksgiving dinner at 7:00.

If possible, stay within the time that you typically have dinner, and it will keep everything on track. This should really help support a more health-conscious Thanksgiving dinner.

5) Mind the ratio

Make sure your plate is not leaning too hard on animal fats and proteins.

Vegetables and fruit have high fiber, which allows them to be digested easily. Turkey and related fats and proteins are what really give the body a challenge.

health conscious thanksgiving


And remember…Don’t fall asleep on the couch!

About the Author

Health Conscious Thanksgiving Dr Tarek Hassanein

Tarek Hassanein, MD, FACP, FACG, AGAF, FAASLD, is a board-certified in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Transplant Hepatology. Dr. Hassanein is the Director of Southern California Liver Centers and Medical Director of UCSD/Sharp Liver Transplant Outreach Program.
Dr. Hassanein specializes in treating viral hepatitis, fatty liver disease, and cirrhosis, and in caring for patients before and after liver transplantation.  As a leading expert in liver disease, Dr. Hassanein’s centers of excellence in HCV, liver cancer, alcoholic hepatitis, and the management of cirrhosis lead to the development of Community Tertiary Care (CTC) centers.



Guest Writer

This post has been curated by a Longevity Live editor for the website.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.