How to Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving

Two Methods:Avoiding OvereatingCoping with Having Overeaten

Thanksgiving Day involves a lot of delicious and lovingly cooked food. It also offers a lot of temptation to gorge yourself until you feel sick. Balancing the desire to eat as much of the tasty fare as possible with being sensitive to your limits is a case of mindful eating. Here are some suggestions to help you out.

Method 1
Avoiding Overeating

  1. Image titled Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving Step 1
    Accept that this is a day of indulgence. While you may be on a diet or watching your food intake, bringing any sense of deprivation into the day may cause you to overeat out of sheer rebelliousness against "missing out". Cut yourself a little slack and let yourself enjoy more food than usual on this special day. After all, the next day things can go back to normal.
  2. Image titled Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving Step 2
    Be sure to eat properly prior to the meal. Don't skip any of the meals during the day – eat breakfast and lunch. The only difference is that you may want to eat more lightly than usual. However, skipping eating normally will just tempt you to overeat at the Thanksgiving meal.
    • Snacks, if needed, should be raw veggies or fruit.
      Image titled Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving Step 2Bullet1
  3. Image titled Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving Step 3
    Take small amounts when serving yourself. Take one small piece or scoop of everything that you enjoy to begin with. Remind yourself that you can always take seconds! This approach is considerate of the need to avoid waste.
    • Using a smaller plate can also fool your eye into thinking that you have more on the plate. This is a traditional dieter's trick.
      Image titled Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving Step 3Bullet1
  4. Image titled Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving Step 4
    Honor the food. Thanksgiving is a time of giving thanks for the food that is on the table. Think about the contents of your plate and how it was once alive and is now about to provide you with energy and nutrition. Think about all the people whose efforts brought the food to the table, from the farmer to the cook.
  5. Image titled Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving Step 5
    Pause. Before you begin to eat, notice everything about the food on your plate. What are its colors, textures, aromas and anything else of note?
  6. Image titled Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving Step 6
    Take small bites and chew everything well. This relates back to the previous step––as you bite, savor the things that you noticed about the food when you took time to assess, such as texture and taste. Also, small bites and slow chewing aids digestion, as enzymes in the mouth begin to break down the food for you.
    • Rest your eating implements on the plate between each bite.
  7. Image titled Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving Step 7
    Chat with others. You're more likely to realize that you're full before you feel sick if you talk, rather than shovel food into your mouth non-stop! During the meal, make an effort to engage others in conversation in between bites. This shouldn't be too hard if family members you haven't seen for awhile turn up with news of the events in their lives.
  8. Image titled Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving Step 8
    Avoid wolfing down your food. Eat slowly and savor the food you're consuming. If you finish everything on your plate, wait a minute. You can tell a story to everyone else, or just sit back and relax.
  9. Image titled Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving Step 9
    Take seconds only if you're still hungry. Repeat the eat-wait-take more cycle until you feel satisfied, but not stuffed. Aim for feeling good, not feeling so stuffed that you can't eat another thing or feel ill.
    • Leave room for the dessert. One piece of pie or one scoop of dessert is sufficient to end the meal. If you feel too full, leave dessert until much later.
  10. Image titled Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving Step 10
    Get away from the table. Go for a walk, play football, entertain a child, play with a pet or help clean up! Head out to volunteer for those less fortunate on Thanksgiving. This will keep you from munching just because there's food in sight.
    • Stay away from snacks arranged away from the dinner table. If they're so tempting, move to another spot where the snacks are not in view.
  11. Image titled Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving Step 11
    Congratulate yourself on a job well done. And laugh at everyone who feels so full they can't move! In fact, you might take a moment to share the secret of enjoying a Thanksgiving meal mindfully with them––just don't be preachy.

Method 2
Coping with Having Overeaten

  1. 1
    Avoid beating yourself up. Once "postprandial somnolence" (food coma) has happened, it has happened and it's a case of coping with the result. Follow the remaining steps here to ease yourself through being so stuffed that you feel ill or exhausted.
  2. 2
    Loosen your pants and clothing. You might even need to change into something less constricting. Just allow your stomach and breathing muscles the freedom to move and gurgle. Your stomach digestion will improve with loosened garments around this region.
  3. 3
    Avoid lying down. Instead, try to go for an easy walk or stroll. Lying down can bring on reflux (heartburn) and make things even worse. However, if you do feel you really need to lie down, do so by heaping up pillows, to prevent you from lying flat.
  4. 4
    Have an after-dinner cordial or liqueur to aid digestion. Drink it slowly and don't have more than one. This drink may help to relax your stomach muscles needed for digestion.
    • Alternatively, have peppermint, ginger or chamomile tea if you'd rather avoid alcohol.
  5. 5
    Keep moving. Go for a stroll, walk or some other form of physical movement to help your digestive system work better. A good dance with everyone else at the dinner won't go amiss!


  • These tips could be used at any meal, Thanksgiving just seems to be a major overeating offender!
  • Sometimes, putting the fork down between bites while you chew can help remind you to eat slowly.
  • Thanksgiving is about your family, friends, and other things you should be thankful for. Not just the food.


  • Don't starve yourself or be super calorie conscious. And definitely don't whine about how people are starving elsewhere and draw attention to the table excesses. Everything is relative and that's just rude.

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Thanksgiving