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Thanksgiving Dinner: Eat Like You Mean it Without Becoming a Butterball

2014-11-14



OK, coming from We-Care.com, I typically talk about what Thanksgiving means on a symbolic, familial, and existential level. But let’s put that aside for one second. Thanksgiving–if your family cooks like mine does–is about unleashing your inner glutton and rabidly double-spooning the entire contents of the dining room table onto your placemat, leaving no trace of the turkey-patterned ceramic that was once your plate. Sometimes eating restrictively is just unfeasible on this day of feasting, so I am going to share my research on how to pack your plate without packing on 10 lbs.

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#1 Plan to run a Turkey Trot

Plan it now or you never will! There’s one in almost every hometown, and it’s a really fun way to get together with old friends from home. Running/jogging is a great way to spark your metabolism, and get your digestive system moving along. It’s only 3.1 miles, so even if you walk it, you’ll finish in under an hour. Eat light afterward, like fruit and yogurt, so that your body isn’t already burdened with digestive labor before its “big game” later that afternoon.

#2 TG Dinner itself: Go Heavy on those Buttery Veggies
While you’re sitting at the Thanksgiving table, you’re essentially engorging yourself in butter-rich everything. It’s important to know that broccoli, parsnip, potatoes, and other vegetables digest a lot more easily than the T-bird itself though. Take advantage of the fiber in vegetables to help you process the resulting intestinal bio-sludge (sorry for that mental image, but let’s be real). Plus, I hate to say it, but the expansion from these gas giants keeps the food moving through your system.

#3 Stay away from Aunt Lulu’s Marshmallow-Fluff Sweet Potatoes
They were sweet before she put Hershey’s Syrup on them. Is that even food? Yuck. Try to avoid anything that deviates heavily from the food on which it was based. Apple pie: maybe yes, turkey drumstick fondue: maybe no. In general, everything is going to have a lot of calories, but if a food doesn’t look like food, just say nein.

#4 Eat Veggies and Carbs Before Meat
Studies suggest that eating fast-digesting foods like vegetables and mashed potatoes before the slow-digesting foods, like meat and other proteins, will help empty your stomach faster. Diving into that turkey on the first bite (like I usually do, admittedly) can hold the veggies back from the rapid digestion they would otherwise incur. I’m a little dubious of this one, but you can bet I’ll be trying it this Turkey Day.

#5 Take Breaks
What?? Just kidding. Get back in there and eat your face off!

#6 Avoid The Bread
I know, I know… we all love bread, but you can eat bread anytime. Let’s stay focused. You’re here to chow down on that once-a-year stuff. Bread takes up space that could otherwise be occupied by Uncle Codwell’s amazing mashed potatoes. If you have room leftover at the end, and you must have bread, you can use some to sop up any left-behind gravy…MMmmmm. Bread (wheat) is also the most common cause of stomach irritation. You may not be gluten intolerant, but if you’re already stretching your stomach lining to its fullest, be nice to it.

#7 Keep It Moving
In the weekend following the Thanksgiving Holiday, it’s easy to sit around, basking in the coma-like state in which overindulgence has kindly left you. Your best defense against having Aunt Belinda’s turkey thighs stick to your thighs is to stay active throughout that weekend. Go for walks, get some things done at home, plan fun Fall activities with family — there are so many options. Take advantage! Calories = energy. You enjoyed immeasurable elation packing in all that energy. I can’t think of a better way to shed it than to simply use it.

I’ve gathered these tips from research over time, but they are by no means scientific. I’d love to hear the thoughts of someone with a degree in nutrition, including other tips he/she may have in addition to these. In general, I pride myself on eating healthily, but this is one holiday where I let quantity trump quality and eat fathoms of food. This was a lot of fun to write; I’m excited about T-givins, and I hope you are too!

Bryan has worked at We-Care.com since the idea was conceived in 2006, leading all of its technical architecture. Having grown up in a family where volunteering was a part of life, Bryan has found a home at We-Care.com, where his love of technology meets his passion for making a difference in the world. He has been living in NYC's Upper East Side since he graduated at the top of his class from the New York Institute of Technology with a degree in computer science. When not adding new features to We-Care.com, Bryan takes advantage of the city's museums, parks, and theaters (or simply spends quiet nights at home coding).