As we approach this annual holiday and its focus on food, we could certainly discuss pride in our Thanksgiving table setting, or mashed potato and gravy lust, and I bet you would envy my gingered cranberry sauce with pecans!
But let’s face facts: Thanksgiving dinner is all about gluttony.
It might reassure you to know that the “seven deadly sins” are not necessarily deadly. They certainly are not charming personality attributes, but mortal wounding of your very soul is unlikely from simply overeating.
Gluttony makes the “sin” list because you are, in theory, taking food away from people who need it. It kind of gives new meaning to parental threats about unclean plates and China.
Thomas Aquinas, a prominent medieval church figure, was a “splitter” and came up with a whole list of gluttonous behavior. You can not only eat too much, but you can eat too soon, too eagerly, excessively daintily, or wildly (like a beast). Even doing all these simultaneously does not rise to mortal sin-hood, but it is an amusing mental picture.
The average Thanksgiving dinner has a whopping 3,000 calories and more than 200 grams of fat. Over the course of the day most people snack their way to a total of 4,500 calories.
You could easily burn through those calories with 20 hours of housework, a 30-mile brisk walk or five hours of pick-up basketball.
For the record, lust-related activity is good for 300 calories an hour, or perhaps more realistically 150 per half hour. And that is just working through dinner calories, not the whole day’s food orgy. And by the way, who feels like playing basketball after a big dinner?
So your best hope is a preemptive strike. This means, perhaps counter-intuitively, eat a very light lunch. Because lunch fare is much less calorically dense than traditionally holiday food, you will come out ahead.
Balancing your plate is also useful. Put a variety of foods on your plate, including vegetables and salad. Don’t go back for seconds on your favorites until you have eaten these less sinful foods.
Savor the meal by chewing slowly so you can really taste everything. After all, that is the point, and it allows you to recognize much better when you are actually full.
Another suggestion is consider using a smaller plate. If a plate-full is the expectation for the meal, you can limit the damage.
Remember the holiday season is a war, not a battle; a marathon, not a sprint. There are numerous opportunities for food-centric celebration over the next five weeks. Some restraint shown this Thursday means you can play later, too.
As for the rest of the deadly sins – we can consider them on New Years.
Have a great Thanksgiving.
Donald Bucklin, MD (Dr. B) is a Regional Medical Director for U.S. HealthWorks and has been practicing clinical occupational medicine for more than 25 years. Dr. B. works in our Scottsdale, Arizona clinic.