When you think about Thanksgiving, what comes to mind?

Football? The history behind the holiday? Catching up with your awkward cousins?

No. When you think of Thanksgiving, the first thing that comes to mind is, obviously, food. And lots of it.

But we’ve also all experienced the adverse affects from this abundance of delicious food. I’m talking about the unbuttoned pants, stuck to the couch in a food coma, oh-my-god-I-will-never-eat-again discomfort. So how do you avoid a debilitating food coma while still indulging on Thanksgiving favorites? Follow these few tips to ensure that you don’t need to be rolled home from dinner because you feel more stuffed than the turkey itself.


1. Resist the snacks

Crudités galore, little bowls of mixed nuts, and, of course, plenty of cheese and crackers. Such appetizers tend to be a pre-dinner ritual for many families, however don’t fall prey to mindless munching. By all means, snack a little to tide yourself over before dinner, but don’t use up your whole caloric budget before the main course has even begun. Save that stomach space for homemade stuffing and pies, foods that are specific to Thanksgiving.

2. Don’t fear seconds

Nobody likes to the be that first person who gets back up for seconds but being that person can actually prevent overeating. Oftentimes, when making a plate from a buffet arrangement, our eyes are bigger than our appetites and we load up with huge portions. Instead of piling mounds food on your plate, start with smaller portions. If you want to try a little bit of everything, shoot for a quarter cup serving of each side and about 4 oz. of turkey. Then, if after eating these reasonably-sized portions you find that you’re still hungry, feel free to get some seconds. However, make sure you are still exercising that same portion-control.

3. Eat slowly

Quickly devouring everything on your plate also leads to overeating because  the stomach doesn’t have enough time to release the hormones that signal to the brain that it’s full. To avoid the discomfort of a full belly, pace yourself at the dinner table. Dr. Kathleen Zelman explains in a WebMD article that, “Not only does eating slowly and mindfully help you eat less, it enhances the pleasure of the dining experience.”  So take breaks, place your silverware down, talk with grandma, get updated by your younger cousins about the recent middle school drama, and consciously listen to your belly as you chow down.

There’s nothing worse than feeling 9 months pregnant by the end of your 9-course Thanksgiving dinner. Avoid the dreaded food coma by exercising these few steps of self-control and conscientiousness throughout the evening. That being said, be sure to savor every damn bite of that gourmet, homemade meal because before you know it you’ll be back at school eating sub-par dining hall food.