The Best Ways to Stretch Your Stomach for Thanksgiving Indulgences

Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation… including moderation.” While Julia meant this as a manta for everyday life, her words are perfect advice for those worried about the impending Thanksgiving holiday. With only a week to go, it is easy to become overwhelmed with thoughts of indulgence. Turkey and gravy, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie are not exactly the lightest fare; however, since such great food rarely makes its presence on the table, now is the time to enjoy the classic foods of the season. Really.

However, you might need to expand your stomach to get it all in. If you’re used to eating small-ish meals, three or so times a day, Thanksgiving can be a shock to your digestive system.

Rather than depriving yourself and worrying about the possibility of a popped pants button, practice these tips to stretch your stomach for all your favorite indulgences.

And remember Julia’s advice: even moderation must be done in moderation!

**Tips and Tricks**

1. Do not eat dinner on an empty stomach. While you might try to convince yourself that skipping breakfast and/or lunch in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner is a good idea, it actually does more harm than good. By depriving yourself all day, you are more likely to overeat during the meal and become fuller a lot faster. As a result, by the time dessert comes around, you might not be able to stomach the thought of a piece of mom’s apple pie.

To avoid this, start your day with a healthy breakfast. If there is a long gap between breakfast and the Thanksgiving meal, have a light snack, such as a piece of fruit, a handful of nuts or a fiber-packed granola bar.

2. Drink plenty of water. Keeping yourself hydrated throughout the day, and even in the days before, is a good way to keep focused and energetic, and to get used to feeling really full, even if it’s just from H2O. Consuming alcohol and caffeine in coffee and soda can leave you feeling dehydrated and too exhausted to watch the football games past halftime.

3. Don’t deprive yourself. Thanksgiving’s meals often resemble unlimited buffets. With their wide selection of items and seemingly bottomless portions, it is easy to start piling things on the plate. Instead of taking a spoonful of everything, take the time to consider all your options and then divide up your plate based on your favorite items. If you really like mashed sweet potatoes more than your aunt’s dry stuffing, then take only what you want to eat. (I’m sure your aunt will understand.) It’s only worth bringing on a food coma from food you really adore.

4. Eat slowly and consciously. Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate with family and friends, so dinner usually involves lot of story telling and trips down memory lane. Be conscious of your eating pace and take small bites. Not only will you enjoy the food more and perhaps get down more of it, but your lingering at the table might lead to hearing about unknown family secrets.

5. Thanksgiving workouts. Despite it being a holiday, Thanksgiving does not give you an excuse to skip your workout. In fact, the table’s indulgences make exercise worth pursuing. Before the big meal, try to incorporate some type of exercise into your day–if you burn off lots of calories, you’ll have room to pack in that many more. So whether it be a Turkey Trot, yoga or some type of fitness DVD, working out is an effective way to build energy, increase what you can eat, and simultaneously ease any guilt that might arise with each forkful.

6. Don’t go crazy with the carbs. Carbs are so easy to get full on–in fact they’re a way to bulk up a cheap meal into something filling for friends. But if you overload on the potatoes, biscuits, and stuffing, you’re jeopardizing your ability to save room for dessert. Watch out for crackers and sliced bread on the hors d’oeuvres spread, especially. Stick with cheese and other protein, plus vegetables, to be sure you have enough room for all the deliciousness.

Bethany Imondi, a junior studying Government and English at Georgetown University, falls into a food coma to avoid washing Thanksgiving dishes. Read more…

Originally posted on Thursday, November 17th, 2011

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