Thanksgiving Dinner Prep (For Your Stomach)
This isn’t your usual guide to Thanksgiving dinner prep. We won’t be sharing our favorite turkey recipes or telling you how to make the perfect sweet potato pie. We’re here to help you make sure you’ve got the right eating strategy on this holiest of days. On this day, your body is a temple, and prayer starts as soon as you’re hungry enough to eat. The real test of manhood is surviving multiple Thanksgiving meals without puking.
Dining for quality and quantity combined in the Ironman of gastrointestinal fortitude takes dedication and preparation. Training starts now, and we’re here to help you get prepped. If you’re wondering, “how much does the average American eat on Thanksgiving?” it’s time to stop wondering. You’re not average, and in simple words, this is the day to “Play Like A Champion.”
It’s painted on the wall in the hallowed locker room at Notre Dame and it’s rule #76 in the wedding crashing playbook of John Beckwith and Jeremy Grey. They’re words to live by. But on the Stomach Super Bowl, a.k.a Thanksgiving, it’s time to put those words to the test.
If you’re not working out, it’s time to start. Yeah, we know, but hear us out. The more energy your body burns, the more fuel it needs, so the hungrier you’ll get when it’s showtime. It’s true the day-of too. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not the type of sociopaths that endorse running 10k’s on the morning of Thanksgiving (especially after the traditional Wednesday night pre-Thanksgiving ritual at the local bar). But once you get your metabolism revving like a ‘70 Chevelle SS you’ll be in peak form for a day of triumph.
So lay some ground work in the weeks before and then go for a run, jump on the bike, or hit the squat rack hard the morning of. Even if you go hard for just one week or a few days, it’s enough to work up the larger-than-usual appetite that you’re gonna need.
Next up, you’re going to need to focus working your way up in volume. Eat through the pain and give up those dreams of a six pack now- focus, we’ve got goals. Each meal you eat counts, so smashing on your plate until you’re legit full is the goal. Repeat this exercise over more than a few days and your stomach capacity should increase a little. Every little bit helps.
Here are our tips for how to make the prep count:
- Proper daily pacing is key: Stop before you feel sick.
- Mix savory foods with sweet: Switch it up to keep your tongue guessing.
- Forget any flavored drinks unless they’re zero calories: Drinks with little or no flavor actually help cleanse the palate a little and cut into the massive amounts of salt used for the Turkey Day spread.
- Booze in smaller intervals: A small amount can help to enhance your meals- but be smart, you don’t want to be in the midst of a Bukowski-style bender prior to game time.
Taste aversion is a brutal fact and a legitimate risk during this type of intense competition prep. Plus you’re going to look like a tool if you’re crying in front of the Whole Foods hot bar because you can’t deal with the smell of mashed taters. On that note, get some reps in and incorporate small amounts of Thanksgiving-style foods into each meal to help you get used to the tastes and smells you’ll be dealing with on the big day.
Scout the Field
Part of the weeklong pregame prep is cook reconnaissance. Find out who’s cooking, what their skill set is looking like, and what their specialties are. Sure, part of Thanksgiving is schmoozing family members, but if a particular aunt/grandma/mom/cousin’s stuffing game is hot garbage, you’ll know to focus just on the turkey and gravy. If their whole culinary game is lacking, plan to be smart at that location and go with a smaller selection. You never want to blow it out on lackluster food and put yourself on IR at halftime.
This is it. Today is the day to put those points on the board like second-half Mahomes. The biggest key here is to stay focused and pace yourself. Don’t get lost in the literal sauce, just execute your balanced game plan.
Speaking of staying balanced, consistent volume is absolutely necessary. Keep your servings appropriate and only stick to what’s good. No need to waste valuable real estate on Aunt Carol’s awful green beans. If you start to hit a wall during transition, come prepared with the proper counter-attack. Go with a smaller plate and blame a hard night of boozing on your lack of appetite, but compliment your hosts anyway.
Finally, let’s not forget the importance of gentlemanly play. Part of playing like a champion is being a professional. If you can’t afford a nice bottle of wine or a small gift for your hosts (yes, even your parents), offer to help clean up or arrive early to set the table. Don’t dine and dash without offering to do something other than fall asleep on the couch with a piece of pie on your chest. Leave that to the jerk-in-law that nobody can stand. You’re better than that.
Focus on Recovery
As you wake up Friday morning post-massacre, you’re no doubt going to have a carb hangover. So plan to nurse yourself back to health with a strong cup of coffee and a smoothie. If it feels like a pissed-off weasel has taken up residence in your head, feel free to hit a spicy Bloody Mary (hey, it has salad on it). Next up, in spite of that stuffing-bloat, get off the couch and get the blood moving with some light exercise and some fresh air.
Now that you’re feeling recovered, it’s time to refocus. Round 2 is here: leftovers.
As you hammer back that leftover turkey sandwich, take some pride in your performance. You crushed another marathon thanks to your dedication, preparation, and sheer force of will. You’re the John Wick of Thanksgiving and you ate like a champion on this day. We salute you.