Harvest Foods and Holiday Nutrition

  Eating Disorders, Nutrition, Blog

Holiday nutrition challenges are not uncommon but can be especially problematic for individuals with eating disorders. It may help to know the nutritional benefits of traditional holiday foods and to practice gratitude for the many [delicious] forms nutrition can take

Alsana’s approach to nutritional care balances nourishment and pleasure on physical and emotional levels to help clients develop positive and nurturing relationships with both food and body. Treatment provides guidance and exposure to flexible food choices and real-life eating experiences, which supports clients in restoring their confidence and in learning to enjoy meal experiences beyond the food itself.


Enjoying Holiday Meals While Maintaining Recovery from Eating Disorders

Embrace a mindful, flexible approach to eating this holiday season, and remember: your Thanksgiving-Day feast may offer more nutrients than you think!

pecan pie

Pecan pie

Like most nuts, pecans contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They even help your digestion after a Harvest meal because of the amount of fiber and magnesium packed inside.


Sweet potato casserole

Besides being a great source of vitamins B6, C, and D, sweet potatoes also have a ton of iron, which helps increase blood cell production and immune system function and decreases stress levels. They are also a great source of potassium. All these nutrients provide energy to heal our brain and body.


Green bean casserole

Packed with vitamins C, A, and K, calcium, potassium, folate, fiber, protein, and iron, green beans have the whole package. These nutrients have been known to fight fatigue, irritability, and mood swings and boost energy.

stuffing aka dressing


If bread crusts are included in your family’s stuffing recipe, get ready to consume some grains. Grains can give you fiber, vitamins, minerals, and plant-based protein. Stuffing (carbohydrates) can help with brain functions such as thinking and learning due to how efficiently the brain uses this fuel source.

mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes

Who else believes that no holiday meal would be complete without potatoes?! They may be comfort food, but don’t discount their holiday nutrition value; potatoes contain large amounts of iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. All these ingredients will help improve and maintain bone strength.

apple pie

Apple pie

Apples have several nutritional benefits. They can help individuals with IBS and even boost the immune system. The apples and pie crust have carbohydrates that aid in the production of serotonin, facilitating a happy, stable mood.

thanksgiving turkey


And now for the bird of the evening—turkey is packed with protein to help increase serotonin, muscle tissue, and integrity of other body structures. Amino acids such as tryptophan, found in turkey, are used by the brain to synthesize various neurotransmitters.



Add flesh and seeds to your holiday dishes to get vitamins, minerals, omega-3s, and antioxidants like lutein and beta-carotene. Cooked pumpkin adds a silky, creamy texture to pies and other desserts or savory dishes.



Fresh or dried, cranberries are packed with fiber, cell-protecting anthocyanins, and vitamin C. Add some to your stuffing, grain salads, desserts, or good old cranberry sauce. Vitamin C is highly concentrated in the brain and plays an essential role in the formation of neurotransmitters, which allow the cells to “talk” to each other.​​​​


Corn had a big year in 2022! This holiday classic could make its way to your meal in various ways – straight-up kernels, casserole, and cornbread, to name a few. It is rich in antioxidants (carotenoids, vitamins C and E) to fight cell-damaging free radicals.


All Foods Can Fit

With our “All-Inclusive Nutrition” approach, we believe in the flexibility and enjoyment of foods without shame or judgment. Our All-Inclusive Nutrition approach embraces the usefulness of all foods, including those foods that are compact, innovative, and nutrient-rich to aid in the restoration and healing of the brain, body, and gut microbiome. This approach broadens nutrition healing to our clients from diverse cultural backgrounds.

At Alsana, our goal is to create food neutrality by taking the moral judgment out of food and focusing on nourishment, flexibility, and pleasure in the nutritional healing process. Contact our admissions team 24/7 if you have questions about eating disorder care.

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