Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The perfect Thanksgiving holiday consists of making the house smell good, cooking a wonderful feast, being surrounded by family and friends and counting your blessings. All quite doable, and I’m even the cook in the family.
And what a feast it is.
The average Thanksgiving dinner meal is 3,000 calories. And that doesn’t count my gingered cranberry sauce with pecans and pineapple (good enough to eat with a spoon), but I digress.
Scientists who have run out of useful research have turned their staggering intellects to our simple Thanksgiving fare and have discovered some interesting facts.
When it comes to these dinners, the more guests you have, the more consumption per person.
The average Thanksgiving dinner participant will eat an extra 35 calories for each guest seated at the table; a case of “the more, the merrier.” More people means more conversation and more time at the table, with predictable results. Distraction also can run up the calorie count. Watch football during dinner and you will add 140 calories to your meal.
Your digestive system has been around far longer than Stove Top Stuffing and still worries about lean times. Being able to gorge on a high fat meal just might get you through the next ice age. So your stomach expands in response to the sight and smell of food. Low fiber, high calorie foods classically associated with Thanksgiving dinner also are rapidly absorbed, giving you room for more.
Those hoping to offset the caloric onslaught by fasting for a day of two, just make it worse and eat more at the Thanksgiving table. Thanksgiving gluttony has even developed its own vocabulary: “uncomfortfull” or “Turkey-Hangover” are two examples.
But there is hope and a few tricks to get you through the meal with less than mortal damage to your diet.
First and foremost, don’t starve! Going to the Thanksgiving table hungry is the recipe for trouble. Eating a bowl of cereal or a cup of soup several hours before dinner will pay dividends.
Eat slowly. Give your body a chance to tell you it’s full. Feelings of satiety are basic hormonal signals that travel much slower that nerve conduction. Your body is talking to you; you just need to pause and listen.
Under normal circumstances you could spend a bit more time with the vegetables, and be ahead. But Thanksgiving recipes have a way of even making vegetables calorie-dense.
Consider an appetizer. With a bit of planning, a well-chosen appetizer will slow down the kamikaze attack on the mashed potatoes and gravy.
Take your time and enjoy the day. The day is about counting blessings more than just food. The cook won’t complain if you don’t have “thirds.”