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6 Ways to Not Stuff Yourself This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner.jpg

Two years ago I did a bit of research on how to eat responsibly at Thanksgiving thanks to a writing assignment for the Health Journal of “Ladies’ Home Journal.” After interviewing Ruth Frechman, Spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, and Joy Bauer of Joy Bauer Nutrition, here’s what I wrote:


Did the food coma from last year’s Thanksgiving feast have you too tired to help with the dishes afterward? That’s not your imagination. According to Ruth Frechman, Spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, gorging yourself during the holidays can have physiological and psychological effects. “After you eat a large meal, less blood goes to your brain and more blood goes to your stomach to start the digestion process,” she says.

As a result you feel more tired, especially if you’ve eaten more than usual. Loaded plates and excess calories can also trigger acid reflex problems and can cause insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia. Psychologically, a person who overeats at the start of the holiday could easily abandon all dietary discipline, starting the new year in a size bigger than before the turkey feast. “Once you start overeating for special occasions, it’s harder to get used to eating less later,” says Frechman.


However, with a little planning, you can avoid the holiday bulge without feeling deprived of your favorite foods. Joy Bauer, Founder of Joy Bauer Nutrition ( offers these helpful hints:

1) Forgo the appetizers and munch on crudités.

2) Load your plate with white meat turkey and vegetables.

3) Pick one to two heaping tablespoons of a yummy, decadent side dish (mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, or whatever else is your favorite). Meals that are heavy on carbohydrates tend to leave you feeling super bloated.

4) Pick one dessert, or go half on two. Or, if you’re strong enough, stop at a taste and pile on the fruit.


5) Always have a club soda in hand (alcoholic beverages can put on the pounds).

6) Hang out with the talkers, not the eaters.

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  • Jim G

    I’m looking forward to stuffing myself. I have as of the summer or so become almost vegetarian. I eat a lot of canned tuna. If I make enough money in the future (with a 2nd income) I’ll buy fresher fish than canned and cook it. I do eat some meat, but not very much.
    My philosophy is patterned after what I imagine / think the native americans did. I doubt they ate meat every day. I bet they only ate it during a feast after hunting. I doubt they hunted more than once a week. So my philosophy is to eat meat if I am eating out at a restaurant or at a party. But not at home – with the exception of fish at home of course.
    Dairy products are also out for the most part. But I still can’t shake bleue cheese dressing. And if someone buys ice cream or yoghurt I’ll eat it.
    So Thanksgiving is the feast of all feasts, and I plan to gorge myself. Sure the turkeys are treated horribly. But I’ll allow myself this one sin of eating an abused animal since it’s a holiday. I plan to have seconds. And the leftovers – the greatest part of such meals, I’ll pile them up as well Friday, Saturday, and with any luck if we still have any leftover, Sunday.
    I’m sure my body will benefit from the nutrients (possibly even including cholesterol) that I don’t normally consume when not special occasion.
    Me, my wife and my mother will be doing the cooking. My father passed away 5 years ago – he used to be the turkey and stuffing cook.
    I’ll consume lots of good vegies too of course.

  • Margaret Balyeat

    A Balyeat family gathering always produces enough food to “feed thrashers” as my mother used to say and there are traditional dishes from the appetizers to the desserts ( all of us conreibute and have a “specialty which would be sorely missed if we didn’t faithfully bring it. We’ll all take a nap (floor, couch or recliner) afterwards, but it will be followed by an hour or two of energetic (mentally, anyway game playing and discussions (those who can tear themselves away from football) as we have games that are as much a tradition at our celebrations as food is. I’m especially excited because we’ll have a new baby with us this year, courtesy of my niece and her husband It will be bitterssweet due to the absence of both of my parents, one sister whois teaching in Kosovo for the second year, and my son who flew today to Cancun with his soon-to be-fiancee and her parents to celebrate at their condo there as is their family tradition.he’s planning to do the “May I have your daughter’s hand” formality and then go down on one knee down on the white sands of the beach (He just finished paying off her ring this week and digured out a way to secret it down there without her being tipped off beforehand.) Another nephew is teaching Engish in Japan, so he too will leave an empty seat at the table, but there will be enough of a core of family to nake it an exciting (and gastrologically delightful) event! Managing my diabetes forces me to eat responsivbly, since I have immediate warning signs if I don’t, but it certainly doesn’t preclude enhoying a small helping of all of my favorites as long as I maintain the necessary variety of proteins, carbs, frits, vwggies and diary products which i’ve gotten to be (of neccesity fairly good at counting.

  • Damsel

    I, personally THINK, the “Way!” ppl look at the Thanksgivenin’ Celebration, MAKES A “HECK!” of a lot of differance!
    I think, WE SHOULDNT be so worried: IF we got the Turkey on “Sale!” OR IF theres “enough” Cranberrt Whatever! BUT, “SHOULD” remember, the ORIGINAQL REASON for Thanksgiven!
    Now, “I” happan to BE an American Citizen, I KNOW ’cause I WAS born in the hospital that they toke the World Trade Center “injuried” or whatever that they, whoever! blew up, years aqgo be IT now!
    I think, WE got IT a heck of a lot BETTER thab the ppl that HAD the First Thanksgiven-Wouldnt IT be a TRIP IF those First Thanksgiven Piligrims or whatever said something like, “GLORY BEE! Set the “microwave” a “little too loud” to bake THIS bird!”
    Excuse ME, thats just a “tad” of My insanity sneaken out!
    BUT serious, sure the problems THAT face use “Today!” R “Way” diffefrant then the “piligrims” BUT, DONT forget they went throw a heck of a lot-DONT BE LETTEN “IT” BE IN VAIN!
    My parents MAY have been-IMMAGRATES, BUT, me being born in the States, excuse, & DAM PROUD of IT! AM AN “AMERICAN!”; I MAY not, presently have my butt on Home ground! BUT am DAM GLAD to be an American, IF MORE Americans, COULD c the “Garbage!” that goes on “elsewhere!”, MAYBE they wouldnt feel SO, “r4ipped” ’round tax time!

  • wendy

    I eat well throughtout the year.I “strive for five” daily.My kids and husband put up with wholesome,organic, naturally nutritious meals,made from scratch, when they would rather run through a drive thru or order a pizza.This time of year.we EXCPECT to be over-full on occasion.On Thanksgiving,My husband and 19 year old son , on college break,play a rousing football game in our neighborhood with all the “menfolk” while the gals get some peace and quiet as we lovingly prepare a feast for all the senses …a tradition we in our family, have enjoyed for 12 years, and my teenage daughter and I get to do some rare bonding as we cook up a storm.The house smells wonderful and inviting and is warm and cozy when the guys get in ,usually wet, cold and tired.To take away ANY part of our wonderful traditions would be wrong.On Friday after the feast,We can take an extra long walk, run up and down stairs as we bring out treasure Christmas decorations and put the up, and get right back to the gym on Monday.We don’t use feasting on one day as an excuse to gorge for the next 6 weeks.We enjoy holiday treats as they are presented, and in moderation.We have homemade eggnog, homemade candies and other special seasonal delights.Fresh nuts,hearty stews and soups.If we gain a little extra weight…guess what…that’s what we are SUPPOSED to do in the colder months,Basically, since we as humans in the 21st century cannot hibernate, and lay low till the weather is nice again, our bodies NEED some extra fuel and fat to keep us strong during the long cold western NY winter going about business as usuall..Once warmer weather DOES come around, any excess weight melts off las quickly as winter snow in the spring sun.We get the garden ready for the new season, start with softball and just being much more active.No dieting for us…just following the seasons.It’s all cyclical.Honor the seasons and traditions…Eat while ye may, for who knows what tommorrow may bring!
    Sings of the Earth in Rochester, NY

  • Lynne

    YEP! I want to feel good not guilty after this feast day. I can make healthy choices. I’m a big fan of veggies and turkey! I am not wild about cakes and sweet potatoes and cream loaded dressings. Desserts can be fairly sensible. Spice can be the variety of life.

  • Boyd

    I look forward to stuffing myself with everything that’s on the table!!

  • SuzanneWA

    Hi, Therese! May you have a blessed Thanksgiving, as well as everyone ELSE on this post! I’m having my first Thanksgiving dinner with my boyfriend and his mother, about 150 miles away. I’m planning on fixing a “turkey roll,” with both dark and white meat. The veggies are creamed onions, spinach, green bean casserole, and, because he HATES cranberry, a wonderful dressing to spice up the meal.
    Last Thanksgiving sticks in my mind because the guy I was going with then, brought me a “ploughman’s platter” of holiday goodies from his dinner with his daughter in Florida. He had just flown in from there, and brought me a turkey leg, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes and dressing! I gorged on the turkey leg; that’s one thing I absolutely LOVE to eat EVERY Thanksgiving. I don’t particularly like white meat; it’s too dry for my already dry-mouth from the meds. So I take this occasion to really ENJOY myself…
    As the writer above said – This holiday, we should remember all those things we are grateful for, despite the financial situation we may find ourselves in. The Lord provided for those of the first Thanksgiving, as He provides for us now. We should take this primary occasion to realize the bounty of what we have – good friends, family, good health, and being young at heart. These things you CAN’T buy.
    Well, that’s all I can think of saying – isn’t that enough??!! Anyway, have a good “turkey day,” and remember to TAKE A NAP after dinner!

  • cathy

    We can all be thankful we have access to food and live in this great land of plenty.
    I will be thankful with every mouthful of Thanksgiving turkey and all the fixins! yum yum
    My prayers will be with the less fortunate and the homeless. I wish they all could have a feast every day.

  • Suzan

    Gratitude and thankfulness are the true hallmarks of this holiday.We in the USA are so used to abundant life that we know that even the homeless and helpless among us have access to a warm Thanksgiving meal.Whether they choose to partake is another story. I have been on the giving and receiving end of abundance and deprivation. When I became homeless because of divorce and mental illness; my own family refused to come for Thanksgiving because of their embarassment at my living situation.So, every Thanksgiving thereafter has been marked with emotional pain for me. Though all has been forgiven and almost forgotten, I always pray the entire day before that God will answer my prayers and allow my day with my family to be blessed with joy and peace, the food is always secondary and coming from a French farm family; that line of thinking is a huge accomplishment!!I recommend that any of you suffering from the turkey triptophan syndrome and complain of stuffing yourselves with too much food just to turn off the tv,save the dishes for later and take a five mile hike through the park or woods and watch the animals scurry around preparing for the winter.Or find a homeless shelter to work atfor the day or evening meal.Walk the talk and lend a hand or better yet, invite those you know or don’t know to share the overabundance of your table.You may be entertaining Christ himself in disguise!!!

  • Anonymous

    Hi all, Happy htanksgiving to all. But like the writer above says, we should htink of all those who will be staying home alone with just a small sandvhich or such.We should give thanks for those who have tried so hard to make it and even if they have failed a tleast, they can hold their head up and know the lord will some how take care of them. invite some one over to share a meal and to share your thanks to god for all he does. It may be the only holiday cheer they have this year. Open your doors and hearts this thanksgiving and
    show gods love. I especially give thanks tha tI have had another year with my husband because he was so sick and has been in hospital twice
    in one year. With heart and kidney probs.i am also so blessed with so many wonderful loving friends.They are the best.So enjoy all your turkeys and dont foget to thank god for allhte htings he has given you.

  • CLeo

    This year the food banks are reporting less donations than ever! Think about it while you’re ‘stuffing’ yourself for the sake of…?
    A local supermarket in conjunction with some charity group was offering a bag of groceries worth $20 for just $10, yet there were few buyers. Maybe ’cause you couldn’t take the bag with you? Some people, and I couldn’t but notice that they were the poorest among us, were depositing single cans of food or packages of pasta, others passed by with cart ladden with goodies and oblivious to food collection for the least among us.
    On Thanksgiving’s night while walking my two beloved dogs after 9 p.m., we didn’t encounter a single walker in our mile long trek. Next morning I awoke to a beautiful day and gave thanks to my higher being for feeling so good, lite and ready to face the day. May nobody goes hungry anywhere, that’s my wish and not only for the holidays.

  • CLeo

    @Suzan, yes! Some of us have entertained angels unaware…that’s my favorite saying and it’s happened to me.
    Let’s all make a point to find out those who are alone this season and invite them home if nothing more than just to sample some cookies and a casual meal.

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