How to Prepare Yourself for Eating a Big Meal

Thanksgiving is usually the day where we eat to our heart’s content. Enjoying a slow-cooked turkey, fluffy mashed potatoes, warm dinner rolls, and rich pies will be found on many dinner tables, and the anticipation of indulgence continually blinds our minds as we fill our stomachs with a large meal.

Ways to Prepare Your Body for Thanksgiving

While Thanksgiving is a day of gluttony and exceptions, many of us are concerned about its negative side effects, such as stomachaches. Here are seven ways that you can prepare your body when it comes to eating a big meal so that you do not feel guilty indulging and you may better control your approach to big Thanksgiving meal.

Promote Good Digestive Health

Boost your digestive system’s functionality by adding healthy bacteria and eating high fiber foods. Probiotics are found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, cultured dairy like kefir or yogurt, or kombucha. They help to maintain a healthy level of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system. Eating probiotics on Thanksgiving Day will also enhance digestion, avoiding a prolonged post-meal stomachache. Meanwhile, an increased fiber intake influences the way food is transported through your digestive system. Fiber-rich sources include chia seeds, leafy greens, fruits, and whole grains (including oatmeal).

Exercise for Metabolism

Never underestimate the benefits of exercise—boosting your metabolism can train your body to burn calories more quickly. This will make the effects of a big meal less detrimental to your body. Additionally, according to nutrition professor Mark Haub, exercise could potentially train your body to better process carbohydrates, which are prolific on the Thanksgiving table.

Practice Good Eating Habits

Don’t deprive yourself of food before Thanksgiving, because eating excessive calories during one meal will not make up for the lack of calories from previous days. Unhealthy eating habits, including sporadic fasting or food deprivation, will also have a negative influence on your metabolism, possibly even slowing it down if you are not eating enough calories—your body will resort to its natural instincts and store extra fat to protect itself! Eat whole, clean foods and drink plenty of water to help you maintain a smoothly working digestive system and a balanced diet.

Take the devices, TV, or books away when you eat, and discipline yourself to focus on the process of chewing and savoring your food. Doing so is likely to increase your appreciation for food. You may even realize that feel full more easily; by taking time to eat, you allow your body to digest the food and give your brain a chance to send “satiation” signals when you are truly full—not when you are stuffed. Pacing yourself when you eat will also enhance your enjoyment of Thanksgiving dinner! The key thought here is to adjust your perception of food so that your perspective parallels that of the Europeans: eating together is considered sacred in many European countries, because these meals allow time for community and communication.

Eat Smart

You can even train yourself to understand portion control better, so that on Thanksgiving Day you won’t be as inclined to spoon mounds of mashed potatoes onto your plate from the start of the meal. Try using smaller plates for meals, and consider the sizes of your meals. There are several mental processes involved in eating, and the continual reminder that you can always go back for more food if you are hungry will decrease your desire to eat with your eyes—often times, overeating results from overestimating hunger. Training yourself to instinctively take smaller portions first will allow you to reduce overeating; what you thought of as a normal portion size could even become a “Thanksgiving portion size”!

If you plan on indulging during your Thanksgiving dinner, choose to eat lighter meals throughout the day. Depriving yourself of food before the big meal will only intensify your hunger and increase your likelihood to gobble up food, robbing you of the opportunities to enjoy and savor the meal—not to mention increasing the risk of a bad stomachache!

The Real Meaning of Thanksgiving

Rather than giving so much value to the gluttonous aspect of the holiday, try to focus on the real sentiments of gratitude. Excitement may influence appetite, increasing the likelihood of compulsive overeating. On the other hand, giving value to eating with family and friends or to the spirit of being thankful will divert some mental devotion away from the food-related aspects, lowering excitement levels to a moderate amount and reducing the risk of overeating.

The Big Breakfast Diet

Eat a huge breakfast, lose a lot of weight? It sounds counter-intuitive, but when a clinical professor of endocrinology and metabolic disease advocates it, maybe it’s worth considering. And when that same clinical professor offers proof that overweight women lost nearly five times more weight on a breakfast cure diet than their counterparts did on a low-carb diet, it’s time to pay attention.

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