The omnivorous gal’s guide to enjoying every last bite at Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, not least because hosting it means there’s no travel required. Instead of braving the airports or the freeways, I get to stumble drunk and overstuffed to my bedroom and sleep off the gravy.
Granted, my role as cleaner-upper means the next day is less fun, but I still love bringing all our family and friends under one roof for a day’o'gluttony.
Last year, we began a healthy new tradition by signing up for a Turkey Trot. We’re continuing that tradition this year (and our numbers are growing!). I can’t wait to Sweat Pink at the Piedmont Turkey Trot, but I am even more impatient to load up my plate with all the delectable goodies that will grace our buffet table.
My husband designs and cooks nearly everything on that buffet table, which guarantees that everything on it is knock-down delicious. (I don’t mean to gloat, but, seriously, how lucky am I?) This year, our menu includes:
Cheddar and Herb Pastry Twists
Parmigiano Reggiano Crisps with Goat Cheese Mousse
Laren’s Mystery Snack
Rotisserie Leg of Lamb
Phil’s NutterButter Pie
Ellen’s Oreo Pie
Melissa’s Apple Pie & Lemon Marmalade
Dana’s Pumpkin Cheesecake
Looks divine, doesn’t it? There is nothing on that menu I don’t want to eat. But because even I have limits, I’ve been honing my strategy around Thanksgiving. This is still a work in progress, but here’s how I do it:
- Exercise in the morning. The Turkey Trot guarantees I at least get my blood pumping and a little fresh air before digging into a steaming pile of mashed potatoes.
- Eat breakfast, but not lunch. I don’t generally recommend skipping meals. It’s not a healthy practice. But on Thanksgiving, I’ll have the usual steel-cut oats with almond butter for breakfast, and nibble on mandarins or other fruit until we actually set out the appetizers. This means I’m raring to go, and have plenty of room, when the meal finally rolls around. Plus, to be honest, getting ready for Thanksgiving requires some taste-testing. So my lunch is just a haphazard sampling of various dishes.
- Have a glass of wine or a cocktail (not beer) before you start eating. Again, this isn’t something I’d recommend on any non-holiday, but there’s a reason they’re called aperitifs—they stimulate the appetite. Indulge in one before you start eating, and everything tastes that much better! I avoid beer because it fills me up too much.
- Go easy on the apps. It’s really tempting to just keep noshing on what’s right in front of you. But I do my best to just try each appetizer once, and then focus on my cocktail. You don’t want to fill up just yet!
- On your first pass through the buffet, get a really small portion of each item. By really small, I mean one or two bites, tops. This requires a LOT of willpower, especially when you can smell the gravy or the sweet potatoes, beckoning you with their sweet, savory, fatty aromas. But getting just a sample of each item means you (a) get to try everything and (b) can narrow down what you have to have more of on your second pass.
- Second buffet trip: stock up on the favorites from round one, but keep portions still relatively small. I’ll usually go for three or four bites of my favorite dishes.
- All subsequent buffet trips: You go girl! Just try to drink a glass of water between each one. Helps with the digestion, ya know.
- Dessert: I tend to be even choosier with dessert, because it’s really my favorite course. I like to get small portions of my top three choices, and sit next to someone who’s having the other ones, so I can try those ones, too.
- Say yes to the hot stuff: I definitely recommend having coffee or tea after the meal. Your body needs all the help it can get processing all that deliciousness.
Okay, so you made it through the meal. Congrats!
The next day is just as important. Meaning, have that cheesecake for breakfast. And then go for a walk. Not a run, or a Bikram class. Just a walk. Trust me, your body will thank you for not overtaxing it even further.
Do you have any strategies for responsible overconsumption at Thanksgiving?