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Thanksgiving is the one day of the year most Americans don't even pretend to diet.

Don't Worry About Weight Gain Yet

Most Americans choose traditional foods for their Thanksgiving feasts. Every child in school learns the story of how the settlers in Plymouth colony landed after it was too late to plant, and the Native Americans (at least this one time) shared turkeys, and corn, and pumpkins at a feast that saved the first colony in New England from starvation. Roasted turkey and corn in various versions appear on most American tablets on Thanksgiving Day, and pumpkin pie is the traditional dessert.

The reasons Americans overeat on Thanksgiving usually don't have anything to do with gluttony. Some Thanksgiving overeating is a matter of manners. Most people have traditional foods that certain members of their families, or certain friends who always come to Thanksgiving dinner, prepare in a prescribed way for the meal. The cook may have searched the market for the best ingredients a week before Thanksgiving and started cooking three or four days before the meal, and there may be just one or even dozens of cooks of the food for every gathering. Diners don't want to hurt anyone's feelings by not eating the dish the cook worked so hard to prepare.

Thanksgiving meals also remind diners of the people they have lost from their lives. A mother or grandmother, or in some families, a father or a grandfather, may have always made part of the meal. When diners eat the food, they remember the lost family member. There are very strong drives to eat certain foods on this one day of the year. And since both of the partners in a marriage or coupling have their own families, and may have been married or involved with others before, some Americans wind up attending two, three, four, or even five Thanksgiving meals during the four-day holiday.

This article is written on the assumption that if you are reading it now, you've finished the last of your Thanksgiving feasts. The first thing you need to do is to detox from your overeating so you'll feel better and can get back to healthy eating habits. Here's how.

  • If you stuffed yourself at the Thanksgiving meal or meals and you are still overeating as you are reading this article, stop! Even carrots and mushrooms (without the butter, bacon, and cheese stuffing) or a nice green salad can stretch your digestive tract. Nerves in the lining of your small intestine send a signal to your pancreas to (1) release insulin to store sugars and (2) release glucagon to force your liver to raise your blood sugar levels just in case something interferes with the absorption of digested sugars into the bloodstream. If you eat low-cal or low-carb food until you feel stuffed, your pancreas keeps you on a sugar high, which makes you want to eat even more. Today, eat small amounts of food, even if it is high-carb or high-fat food. This is a time pie (just a single slice of pie, not the whole pie) can be healthier than salad. But why not just have a cup of soup (a cup, not a bowl)?
  • If you are still hung over from alcoholic libations, don't take a shot of "the hair of the dog that bit you." Stop drinking alcohol until you feel good again. And don't try to correct excessive consumption of alcohol with excessive consumption of caffeine. You'll just be wide awake as you feel hung over. Small amounts of bitter foods (such as green salads) may activate your liver.
  • It's usually not a good idea to treat heartburn with Tums or Rolaids or over the counter antacids with aluminum, because they interfere with absorption of minerals. Today you probably have consumed enough minerals. It's OK to take the medications that make you feel good.
  • If you have a problem with flatulence, avoid carbonated beverages and champagne. Try drinking mint tea or eating peppermints. Altoids are ideal. This is also a good time to use Pepto Bismol, but it won't work unless you have stopped eating.

It if you are feeling stuffed or hung over after your Thanksgiving feast or feasts, it is more important to get back to feeling good again before you worry about losing weight. But there are things you can do that can prevent your needing to detox again after your next holiday meal.

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