Thanksgiving: How To Stuff Yourself

OK. I’m in South Carolina where the living is easy, but Internet and cell phone access is iffy. Wonder if that’s one of the reasons why the living is easy? Just a thought. In any event, I’m preparing myself this early a.m. both mentally and physically for Thanksgiving.

It’s my favorite holiday. All I have to do is eat — and try not to make too big of an ass of myself as the rounds of Jameson and wine loosen my tongue. Note to self: Avoid all talk of Congress, the failed supercommittee, the inability to come up with a plan to get America working again, and MLB’s designated hitter rule. But be prepared to offer some pithy commentary on the latest in the Kim Kardashian wedding debacle.

And unless you work for one of the retailers that now believe that Black Friday begins as early on Thursday as possible, I expect like me you’ll stuff yourself with turkey and other goodies on a day according to a NYT article that is “essentially a state-sponsored, socially acceptable binge with predictable, almost universal results: bloated bellies, wider waistlines and outgunned couches.”

Ah. Life is good. I digress.

Here’s from the article, “Prepare to Indulge“:

ASK Crazy Legs Conti, a professional eater, what he thinks of your average Thanksgiving feaster, and you can almost hear him choke.

“I call Thanksgiving ‘amateur hour,’ ” said Mr. Conti, 40, who weighs 215 pounds and is the nation’s reigning sweet-corn-eating champion. “Not to disparage: I want them to enjoy it, I want them to enjoy their meal. But the truth is, I watch every morsel of food I put in my body year round.”

That may be rich coming from a man who recently devoured 115 shrimp wontons in 8 minutes at a competition in Singapore. (He lost.) But there is a kernel of truth in Mr. Conti’s pride in controlling his appetites.

Many of us are, in fact, rookies around Thanksgiving, which is essentially a state-sponsored, socially acceptable binge with predictable, almost universal results: bloated bellies, wider waistlines and outgunned couches.

So how can you avoid the agony of overeating while still enjoying the stuffing? Can you actually prepare for overindulgence, so that third helping of yams doesn’t lay you out flat? And what do you do when you inevitably eat too much anyway?

First, the bad news. While specialists say handling a big meal is easy for them (“I can look at a turkey the way that a Terminator looks at something: I can scan it,” Mr. Conti said), there’s really no easy way for the rest of us to prepare our bodies for gluttony. Fasting the day before Thanksgiving, for example, doesn’t work. It might make room in your stomach, but it also increases your appetite to the point where gorging is all but inevitable.

O.K., but can you train to get your gullet ready for the battle? Maybe, but you should have started long before today.

Dr. Lawrence R. Kosinski, a committee chairman of the American Gastroenterological Association and a private practitioner in the Chicago area, said that if you really wanted to, you could stretch your stomach’s capacity (normally about a quart and a half) by consistently overeating. But that would take a lot of food and time.

“You really can’t do it over a couple of days,” Dr. Kosinski said.

That being said, there are ways to survive the intestinal onslaught, most of which, like any good disaster plan, involve preparation, containment of the damage and the strength to rebuild.

Doctors, psychologists and experts in overeating all say that mental preparation is crucial to creating willpower, which can be hard to come by when you are suddenly staring down that perfect triple-layered chocolate-dipped cheesecake. With whip.

“Venues that are typically food-free zones light up like pinball machines around the holidays,” said Cynthia Bulik, a clinical psychologist and the director of the University of North Carolina Eating Disorders Program.

Ms. Bulik says that as bad as the feeling of being overfull can be, the guilt over those trips to the pie table can last far longer. “It’s not just the pounds,” she said. “It is the self-pounding that people put themselves through for having that extra dessert or taking that second helping of stuffing.” (Or third. Or fourth. Or … .)

Oh, boy.

I’m planning to start my holiday by running the Piggly Wiggly 10K in Hilton Head. Then I’ll stuff myself with a clear conscience.

Hope you enjoy the holiday.

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One response to “Thanksgiving: How To Stuff Yourself

  1. Another topic to be careful about this weekend is the Clemson-South Carolina game. You have a 50/50 chance of making a friend for life or an enemy LOL

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