How To Eat More Than One Thanksgiving Dinner, Because Yes You Need A Plan

Thanksgiving is a time for family, reflection, and tons of food. It's also, in theory, time for relaxing, although the relaxing part may be hard to come by, especially when Thanksgiving travel is guaranteed to be a nightmare, or if you have to spend Thanksgiving away from home. But we haven't talked about how non-relaxing it is when you have too many homes on Thanksgiving — navigating how to eat more than one Thanksgiving dinner should not be taken lightly. 

Yes, that's right — what do you do when you have too many obligations on Thanksgiving? Whether it's visiting your SO's family, your extended family, or just seeing your friends, you need to prepare yourself for a day of heavy lifting (your fork, that is). Would you run a marathon without training? Would you climb a mountain without the proper equipment? Would you compete in Tour de France without knowing how to ride a bike? I didn't think so.

You need more than just a hungry belly and the Thanksgiving spirit this holiday — you need the drive. You'll need to work hard, give 100 percent, and keep your head in the game. Think of me as your coach, and this as the pre-game locker room speech.

Here is some very sincere but also very dramatic advice from me, a someday competitive Thanksgiving eater. Ready? Hands in. Clear eyes, full hearts, empty stomachs, can't lose!

1. Assess Yourself

This stage is also known as "Check Yourself, Before You Wreck Yourself."

First, assess your abilities. You should be able to eat at least one and a half dinners per night before you even consider training for a Thanksgiving marathon. If you haven't been preparing your entire life for this, shame on you. You can build up your endurance in the days approaching the holiday by doubling up your lunch and dinner orders.

But in all seriousness, it is probably a good idea to come up with at least some sort of a game plan before you eat yourself silly — and to know what your limits are. At this point in the game, you might want to practice saying "no." You are but a single human — you're not going to make it to everyone's Thanksgivings. And while it's never fun rejecting an invitation, it's also simply not possible to eat a full meal with all the fixings at each house if you have three different Thanksgiving dinners lined up — nor is it advisable. You don't want to feel like you're rushing through dinner and conversation just so you can go rush through dinner and conversation at the next place, and then repeat the process a few more times before calling it a night. Figure out which stops are absolute priorities. Then, proceed on to step number two...

2. Make A Plan

A plan will keep you on track during the big day. Begin by asking yourself the following ultra important, hard-hitting questions to determine which dinner to attend first:

  • Which dinner will likely have better appetizers?
  • Which dinner will have better desserts?
  • Which dinner would I rather be at?

Pick whichever dinner is likely to be better overall as the second party of the night. It's likely you'll spend more time at Dinner Two, so make sure it's one you're going to enjoy. And skip dessert if you still have yet another dinner you plan on attending. You can always wind down with pie and coffee at your final destination.

Map out routes between the parties, and plan to nap on the commute if you can. You'll need plenty of rest before the second wave of food.

Now it's time to mentally prep.

3. Gear Up

On Thanksgiving morning, get your head in the game with inspiring music. My recommendations include anything Beyonce with the occasional Taylor Swift. You are flawless. You can handle anything.

Then, with your music blaring in the background, look at yourself in the mirror and repeat any of the affirmations below, or you can write one yourself:

  • I am a food magnet, and food flows into me and my belly effortlessly.
  • I am healthy and strong. I live life to the fullest, and eat as much as I possibly can.
  • I forgive myself whenever I think I am unable to eat anymore, and I restart with renewed vigor.

After you feel renewed and capable, it's time to get dressed. I recommend jeggings (leggings disguised as jeans), or whatever is your most comfortable pair of pants paired with a sensible but relatively stain-resistant top.

4. Eat!

If you have carefully reviewed the steps above, it's finally time to eat. Godspeed!

Tips For Dinner One

  • Stretch before you begin.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Remember to be slow and steady.
  • Do not overeat at Dinner One, I repeat do not overeat at Dinner One.
  • Nap in the car.

Tips For Dinner Two

  • Eat all you can, this is the home stretch!
  • Push through the wall. 

You will hit a point at Dinner Two, usually when the second batch of dinner rolls comes out, where it feels like you cannot possibly go any further. This point is often compared to the wall marathon runners hit during a race. You must push through. You're so close. 

I also encourage you to ask family and friends to cheer you on from the sidelines during this race. Best of luck, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Image: Tim Sackton/Flickr; Giphy

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