Answers to Every Possible Thanksgiving Health Question, 2016

Food and relationships still matter.


This column is now a tradition. Many of the questions are real.

Are green beans still good for you if they’re smothered in cream-of-mushroom soup and fried onions?

Any dish that contains green beans is healthy. I was once at a county fair where they were selling deep-fried leather boots filled with gravy and a single green bean. That meant it was cool to ask for extra frosting.


What's the maximum amount of weight you can gain in one meal? If I eat literally 10 pounds of food (maybe biologically impossible—not sure), will my body assimilate all that?

The max is 100 pounds.

That’s considerably higher than I thought.

Wait, are you jerking me around? If you are, you’ll regret that.

I am. If you eat 10 pounds of food and then step onto a scale, you won’t have gained ten pounds. Your body immediately starts burning the food/energy. Have you ever wondered why you breathe in O2 and breathe out CO2? As in, where’s that carbon coming from?



What’s the healthiest way to get drunk? (i.e. which drink has the fewest calories or does the least amount of harm ...  ’cause I'm going to drink a lot. )

The healthiest way to get drunk is to interrogate your motives for obscuring consciousness, addressing them head on, and then not getting drunk, sorry. There is a less dangerous way to intoxicate oneself, but it’s still illegal in a lot of states.

You know what’s legal and healthy, though? You’re going to think this is cheesy. It’s love.

Oh I hate you.

That’s not it!


Do we really need more celebrations of colonialism?

Colonialism is a scourge on the species. Almost anything else would be healthier to celebrate.


I have diabetes, so I’m eating pure gravy. No carbs, all gravy.

Your gut microbes need fiber. Eat whole fruits and vegetables.

But those have carbs.

Stop saying carbs if you don’t know what it means.

Oh, so now you’re an intellectual elite.

Sorry, I—you’re right, I’m sorry.

I eat potatoes because the pilgrims ate potatoes at the first Thanksgiving. I read it on

Well, technically no—I mean, okay.


I understand cranberry sauce has many health properties. Can you help me better comprehend its greatness?

Sounds like you’re a cranberry lobbyist.

I am. No, but it definitely has some effects. Without cranberry I might eat less protein, like beef and mortadella.

Right, delicious Thanksgiving beef. The most important thing in deciding how to eat is how your food affects the environment. Having seven billion people eating cows is environmentally catastrophic.

This is the worst Thanksgiving special ever. At least cranberry juice cures UTIs.

It doesn’t.


Will President Trump pardon the turkey?  

He hasn’t spoken on that to my knowledge. It’s hard to know what he’ll do.

He keeps his press pool restricted to a small area in the lobby of Trump Tower, where they’re partitioned off behind a velvet rope. I heard they have access to a food pellet machine like gerbils, but that they don’t use it because it’s too degrading. Like that’s where they draw the line. Can’t be true.

But the one consistent message he sends is that nothing he does should surprise us.

He might personally eviscerate the turkey on live television. To make a point about China or something.



I read in The New York Times that I’m not supposed to let my dog lick my face. But I’m wondering if it’s okay if I lick my dog’s face?

That’s probably safer.

A family of Hungarian refugees newly arrived in New York, 1956 (Anthony Camerano / AP)

What are the healthiest foods to Instagram?

This is Instagram’s seventh Thanksgiving, so nothing anyone can do will be original. One game is to repost the same food photos from prior years and see if anyone notices. Caption them with something like “A delicious and truly original dish.” Probably no one will notice that it’s the same photo from last year, and not because people don't like you, but just that no one has memories anymore. Which is sort of sad, but also nice to be reminded that nothing we post really matters that much. Or maybe that’s sad, too. I don’t know.


I have been blessed by God with extra food.

Find your nearest food bank.


I put a frozen turkey in my deep frier. All good?

Still no. Every year no.


Are we still talking about Donald Trump? Because this is Thanksgiving, so let’s just leave the politics aside.

Leaving “politics” aside is one of the reasons the U.S. elected a demagogue.

Oh whatever. I’m going to watch football.

I think football is institutionalized physical abuse.

Don’t lay your liberal bull crap on me. Those guys want to get concussions that’s up to them. I do what I want.

I don’t identify as liberal, I don’t identify as anything. You have the right to watch football. No one is threatening your rights.

Better not.

I think a lot of Thanksgiving arguments this year will come down to this basic divide. It’s helpful to be mindful of the differences between rights and norms, laws and morality. As in, you have the right to do a lot of things that are predicated on other people suffering. It’s legal to fill your plate with food your mother cooked, and then turn it upside down and tell her you wish you were never born. That is your right.

But should you? Someone suggesting that maybe you shouldn’t isn’t an encroachment on freedom. It doesn’t mean that “liberals” are crying for “safe spaces.” The same goes for suggesting that people reconsider supporting professional football, or supporting the idea of registries of all Americans of a particular religion, or deep-frying frozen turkeys.

The healthiest thing to do this Thanksgiving (and thereafter) is to keep listening, learning, growing, and figuring out what’s best for the world.