It’s that time of year again—when everyone on campus starts itching for Thanksgiving break. After waiting since Labor Day while all our friends at other schools had fall break, our time has finally come.

You can deny it, but if you’re like me you’ve been thinking about your meals at home ever since you left in August. Don’t be ashamed, food is obviously one of the most important things about going home. But you don’t want to get stuck filling up on just ‘okay’ meals when you’re home, nor do you want to come back to campus feeling like you’ve gained the Thanksgiving thirty—especially with the seasons of semi-formals and winter break beach vacations fast approaching.

Here are a few occasions you should indulge (and not feel even remotely guilty about it) along with handy tips for resisting those temptations and only slightly overeating this Thanksgiving break.

Five occasions to prioritize:

1. Thanksgiving

As someone whose all-time favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, I’m all about wearing super loose pants and eating as much turkey, stuffing, pie and other totally delicious desserts as my stomach can possibly handle. This day of thanks only comes once a year so it’s basically a given that it should be an occasion to indulge—your first eating priority. You have lots of bases to cover with all the mouth-watering Thanksgiving staples—so coming starving to the table is basically a necessity.


Photo by Rachel Weitzman

2. The first home cooked meal

Even if you’re lucky enough to have a kitchen at school, there is something about your mom’s lasagna or your dad’s steak tips that simply can’t be replicated by anyone else. This is certainly a time to indulge—most of you have been patiently waiting for this for at least three months.

3. Your favorite restaurant

You’ve likely been awaiting your return at your favorite restaurant in town ever since you stepped foot in Foggy Bottom at the start of the school year. If you have a chance to go with your family, you’ll probably even swing a free meal out of it. Take advantage of it while you can and suggest an outing to that favorite place of yours (because a trip to Ruth’s Chris is “family bonding time”, right?).

4. Your friend’s birthday

Thanksgiving is one of the few times a year when all your high school friends are home at once. Between the months of August and November, there’s bound to be someone with a missed birthday or another fun occasion to celebrate. If you’ve got a sweet tooth like me, you’re definitely going to want to eat that amazing cake from your favorite bakery to celebrate. Come on, you’re basically disappointing everyone if you aren’t digging in with them.

Now that everyone is sufficiently daydreaming about/drooling over/obsessively planning each of the events above, you have to make sure you save room for them—there’s nothing worse than getting so excited about a meal but giving into your popcorn craving only an hour beforehand and then not being able to eat it. I’m about to make sure that heartbreak doesn’t happen to you.

Tips to help you save room (and calories):

1. Don’t wander into the snack cabinet

Didn’t your mom always tell you that eating before a meal will ruin your appetite? Well, she was right. You can have those Doritos anytime. If you’re really hungry, don’t take the whole bag back to the couch with you. You’ll subconsciously keep reaching in for more, and before the next episode of SVU is over, you’ll be full.

2. Get together for a group reunion

It’s always tempting to eat out with individual friends while catching up. But meeting up with friends multiple times a day—for lunch, coffee, fro-yo and dinner—can make you super full (and do damage to your bank account). Instead, make a plan with a bunch of friends to all go out together. You get to see everyone at once, scale back your eating-out calories, and use the leftover funds for your reunion dinner with your roommates back at school on Sunday.

3. Live for leftovers

Unfortunately, no matter how big your sweats or how stretchy those yoga pants are—you’re going to have to admit to defeat at some point during the Thanksgiving meal. But remember that even when that time comes around, the holiday can live on for a few more days with these leftover Thanksgiving hacks.


Photo by Rachel Weitzman

4. Slow and steady wins the race

I know—you’re super excited to eat everything you’ve been wanting but can’t have or can’t afford at school. But remember, you’ll probably regret stuffing your face and filling up in the first half hour you’re home. You have a few days to do that, so spread it out. Your new motto: “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”