Tips to Avoid Overeating at Thanksgiving Dinner

The Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are no doubt the 2 of the most looked forward to occasions in America. I know they’re my favorites. But over the years, I have to come find that while I very much enjoy the dinners, they are not without consequences – mainly the side effects of overindulgence: an “enhanced” figure and sometimes acid indigestion.

One serving of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, yams, a roll and pie (which is what we usually have) is often more than my stomach can comfortably hold, and I am full in 5 minutes. Yet, it all tastes so good that I often can’t help going back for seconds, which I inevitably regret. And I am sure I’m not alone in this.

So I thought I would offer a few tips for those not opposed to a little deviation from the regular sit-down Thanksgiving dinner. I am not suggesting substitute foods – like mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes or adding heaps of bran to the dressing, both of which we have tried in the past (while the latter wasn’t so bad, the first was rather disastrous as I believe we also mashed yam in with the cauliflower – yuck).

What I am suggesting is a different way of eating. It is easy to overeat when you’re sitting around a table heaped with goodies because you don’t really feel how full you are when sitting down. Also, it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to receive the signal from your stomach that it is full. So here are a few suggestions to help you save your waistline and avoid the need for Tums or Alka-Seltzer.

Tips to Prevent Overeating and Weight Gain at Thanksgiving or Christmas

  • Have a buffet style dinner

    Having to stand up to get second helpings will help you to gauge how full you are.

  • Use smaller plates

    Using smaller plates will help avoid the “eyes are bigger than your stomach” syndrome. Also, if you take less on the first helping, you can justifiably go back for seconds and feel satisfied that you got to have 2 helpings without over-stuffing yourself.

  • Use smaller serving utensils

    Use regular tablespoons (or teaspoons if you’re really serious) instead of large serving spoons. This will help avoid huge helpings.

  • Picnic-style instead of sit-down dinner

    Instead of eating everything in one sitting, keep the “buffet” open and everyone can graze and hang out over the course of an afternoon and/or evening.

  • Break before dessert

    Instead of segueing directly to dessert, take a little break. Even just sitting around and chatting for a while to let your stomach digest a little helps. Or consider a few of the following:

    • Going for a slow, relaxing family walk
    • Going early Christmas caroling
    • Playing a game like charades that encourages mild movement

Again, these suggestions deviate from the traditional sit-down family dinner. If you’re a stickler for tradition, they might not work for you. Rather, they’re for those open to a little change and wish to avoid overeating, which is so easily done at these occasions, this holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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