Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, creamed green beans, mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, dinner rolls, gravy, pies, and so much more end up on the table at Thanksgivings around America. With so much to eat, there’s a chance you might not be able to enjoy all of it. At the very least, there’s going to be a side or two that you’ll have to pass up on as your pants go from regular fit to skinny-jean over the course of the afternoon’s feasting.
The good people over at Popular Science asked some science folks what’s the best way to prepare and gorge yourself on this, the most gluttonous of holidays. Below are their six steps to filling yourself in a practical and zealous manner. The article came with a warning from Popular Science’s editorial staff “Note: This advice is not conducive to a healthy everyday diet. But then again, neither is Thanksgiving.”
To breakfast, or not breakfast, that is the question…many of ask ourselves on a frosty Thanksgiving morn. Leslie J. Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN (read: a real dietician), gave some concrete answers for the feaster this year by dispelling the “don’t eat so you’re hungry” myth. Bonci recommends you “consume as much as possible … if you’re starving, you’ll eat too quickly instead of pacing yourself.” This seems to make sense — no one wants to inhale a whole turkey leg and pass out from exhaustion before the pie even land on the table.
Bonci also recommends a little movement with the body earlier in the day to make you more ravenous. “Exercising earlier in the day is also a good idea. Physical exertion can stimulate the appetite. And a brisk walk or run helps move food through your digestive system and empty out your stomach in preparation.” Yes, exercise. Your heart will thank you.
And, lastly, our demeanor is super important to how much food we can eat. So maybe don’t start taking about Trump’s White House cabinet choices until after dinner, or, you know, not at all. Per Bonci, “Finally, it’s easier to eat a lot if you’re relaxed. So immediately before the meal, take some deep breaths, think calm thoughts.”
So, in summation, eat a good meal early then get some exercise to get your body ready to eat again and then find your zen before digging in.
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2. DISH CHOICES
Okay, you’ve made it all the way to Thanksgiving dinner with a solid brekkie, a good afternoon run, and you’ve avoided complicated small talk. Now it’s time to load up the plate for maximum gorging on all the delicious food laid out before you. Bonci has one hard and fast rule for you, “the more you chew, the fuller you will feel.” That doesn’t mean just shove food in your gob and swallow. Really it means choosing the food you don’t have to spend too much time munching on — like, say, dried out old turkey legs. Instead think of a nice foundation of stuffing, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls. Soft stuff (which Thanksgiving naturally tends to favor).
Bonci last tidbit of advice is to avoid the high fiber foods. “While you’re at it, you should also delay your consumption of fiber-rich foods like veggies and whole grains. They fill you up faster because that fiber soaks up water and takes up more room.” So, if you needed an excuse to avoided the Frankensteined sweet potato and marshmallow casserole, now you have one — too much fiber!
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Side dish alert for the holidays🎉 • Balsamic honey glazed Brussel sprouts 🌱 • • 1 1/2 lb Brussel sprouts 3 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp sea salt 3/4 tsp ground black pepper 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 2 tsp honey or maple syrup • • • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut bottom of Brussel sprouts off and slice lengthwise. In a large bowl toss Brussels with 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes until tender and caramelized. Place the Brussels back into a bowl and toss with remaining 1 tbsp olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey. Taste and season with salt if necessary. Enjoy! 😋
3. PACE YOURSELF
This should be a given. But sometimes it’s just too hard when the food is delicious. According to Bonci, a 30 minute break is all you’ll need (assuming you’ve been careful with what you’re dishing up). “If you’ve been loading up on simple carbohydrates, you’re in luck: The stomach can empty itself of low-fiber carbs in a mere 30 to 90 minutes.”
The turkey will be the food that lasts in your system the longest according to Popular Science, “protein like turkey sticks to your ribs for much longer: It will take closer to four hours to pass through your stomach.” But, if you’re stomach is already full of carbs that take 30 to 90mins to pass from your stomach into your intestines, you’ll be making more room for round three or four in no time! Plus, 90 minutes is the perfect amount of time to watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles all the while successfully avoid talking about current events again. Win!
Sometimes you just need to change the way your body is positioned to help with the flow of food through your body, and thusly making more room in your stomach. Bonci recommends, “If you take yourself from a sitting to a standing position, you’re going to move food more quickly.” Don’t be afraid to stand up and take a few laps around the living room to make some more room for gravy, turkey, and another scoop of mashed potatoes.
Another tactic you can learn from competitive food eaters, water. Bonci notes that “drinking will help to move things down instead of everything sitting there going nowhere like a traffic jam.” You don’t have to have water. Maybe it’s time for a nice old fashioned to get the stomach juices flowing. Either way, you’ll be making room for another solid round of food coming your way.
“Sweet foods don’t make you feel full as quickly as savory ones do,” Popular Science says. If that’s true, maybe you should have been sampling the pies from the get go. After all, if you’ve made it this far in the meal, what’s difference is a piece or two of pie going to make — other than probably knock you out. Because, after all, it’s the massive meal you ate that sends you into a coma, not the turkey.
In the end, eat good food with good people and it’ll all work out. And definitely watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Here’s a sample that probably sums up how we’re all feeling today — the busiest travel day of the year: