Fact Checked

Thanksgiving Myths You Must Not Mess Up With

Thanksgiving myths

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Story At-A-Glance
  • The first Thanksgiving Day happened in 1621 in Plymouth to praise a bountiful harvest.
  • Thanksgiving Day was a religious event and celebrated for three days.
  • Fowls, deer, and pigeons were the first foods eaten at the First Thanksgiving; although, it was a prospect that the Pilgrims ate turkey too.
  • Thanksgiving Day is sometimes called ''Turkey Day.”
  • There are many ways to celebrate a healthy Thanksgiving.
  • There are historical untruths about Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving Day is a festive national holiday celebrated in various parts of the world. It is a secular celebration when family and friends gather together for a big meal. Find out the story of the First Thanksgiving and the circulating myths concerning “Turkey Day”.

The Very First Thanksgiving Day

The earliest Thanksgiving celebration was recorded in 1621 in Plymouth. Residents of Plymouth (or Pilgrims) would celebrate following a successful, bountiful harvest even during the colder season.

The first feast was celebrated for three days until it was proclaimed as an official holiday during the Civil War in 1863.

Foods During The First Thanksgiving

The earliest Thanksgiving Day was a famous banquet shared by the Pilgrims and Native Americans. From the historical accounts, the first three (3) foods served during the First Thanksgiving were the following:

  • Plenty of fowls, which included goose or duck
  • Five (5) deers
  • Passenger pigeons

Why Turkey Became the Centrepiece During Thanksgiving

Pilgrims ate plenty of fowls, deer, and pigeons on the First Thanksgiving. While it was not validated that Pilgrims consumed turkey too, narratives suggest that it would have been possible. Turkey was uncommon in the past.

Nevertheless, the association of turkey during Thanksgiving began in American culture in the middle of the 1900s. Since then, a live turkey is presented to every president of America. Hence, called ”Turkey Day.”

In the present day, an oven-roasted Turkey serves as the master dish in the Thanksgiving dinner. It is usually stuffed with herbs like sage, carrots, onions, celery, apples, and cranberries. 

turkey became centrepiece

How Not to Overeat during Thanksgiving Feast

People devour food on Thanksgiving Day. And if you are stressed or worried, you are more likely to overeat. Besides, being surrounded by delicious foods is so tempting! Here are some tips for happy and healthy Thanksgiving:

  • Start the day with breakfast. Breakfast time is the most important meal of the day. The first meal provides the energy you need to sustain your day. Plus, you feel less hungry before the Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Pre drink soups or broths. Soups and broths are nutrient-containing dishes that keep you full and hydrated. Also, soups and broths give a boost to the immune system too. 
  • Don’t forget water. Drinking water before meals makes hunger and cravings less. It is a natural appetite suppressant. Water also flushes toxins from the body, maintains healthy skin, and promotes weight loss.
  • Take easy on alcohol. Alcohol encourages hunger and appetite. Suppress your alcohol cravings before the party. Grab snacks instead of alcoholic drinks. Alternatively, quench thirst by drinking water, fruit juice, or non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Have some snacks in-between. Are you fighting off hunger? Grab high-fiber or protein snacks. Snacking promotes satiety and arrests the feeling of constant cravings. 

thanksgiving snacks

Debunking the Top 6 Thanksgiving Myths

The following are the most common misbeliefs about Thanksgiving Day:

1. Turkey Isn’t What’s Making You Tired.

Your grandmother might have told you not to eat (a lot of) turkey during Thanksgiving as it will make you feel tired. The truth is, it is not the turkey that makes people sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner, but its components.

Turkey holds massive amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid that regulates serotonin and melatonin. They are neurotransmitters that influence sleep, sleep-wake cycle, and mood. 

2. Fresh Pumpkin Isn’t Any Better Than Canned Pumpkin.

Not always. Choosing fresh or canned pumpkin is a matter of personal preference. Fresh fruits or veggies are better and more nutritious. However, some people opt for canned pumpkin not only because of its nutritional value; but also, it has a silkier texture and tastes better.

3. White meat? Dark meat? It doesn’t matter.

Choosing white meat or dark meat for the Thanksgiving feast is discretionary. Poultry meat has a better nutritional profile because of its low-fat content, according to Food and Nutrition Research. However, dark meats contain more minerals than white meats, particularly iron, zinc, and B-vitamins. They are also richer in flavor and savorier. 

4. One Meal Can Have A Big Impact On Your Body.

A well-portioned, balanced meal does not affect weight and health. Yet, keeping up a healthy eating habit during parties can be excruciating, not to mention when you are surrounded by exquisite dishes.

The International Journal of Eating Disorders reports that loss of control in eating is not only linked to multiple adverse health problems, such as obesity, but it also impairs psychosocial functioning.

In a particular study among adolescents, researchers found out that girls who overeat are more susceptible to substance abuse, low self-esteem, and depression.

impact of meal

5. It Wasn’t Just About Religious Freedom.

Thanksgiving Day is a religious thing in the past but a secular event today. It was not only a search for religious freedom or land but a festive gathering following a bountiful harvest of Pilgrims in 1620.

Now, Thanksgiving is no longer considered a religious holiday but a temporal event where the family gathers and shares food. 

6. There’s No Evidence That Turkey Was Served.

Contrary to popular belief, there was no turkey served during the First Thanksgiving. There is no evidence to prove this, but rather a grapevine or a chance. 


While it began as a religious holiday, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated nowadays for people to give thanks for the blessings of the past year. It is a sought-after celebration in American culture where families and friends consolidate and share meals.

Besides the popular turkey dish, there are many food varieties people can eat and share on the special day. When celebrating Thanksgiving, people are reminded to eat mindfully, keep up a healthy lifestyle, and learn to give back to others in need.

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