Eat Pie First, and More Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

I approach Thanksgiving with the full intent of it being a colossal eating event. Sleeves rolled up, I slide all my chips across the table and sit back with an air of indifference. Let's do this.

It made me wonder, how much damage can we do in one day? So, I called the Cooper Clinic and spoke with Colleen Loveland MS, RD, LD, CDE, registered dietician. I asked her how much weight I could possibly gain after a day of gluttony. She explained one day of food high-jinx typically comes in around 3500 calories, which is equal to one pound. But, with a game of flag football, or a tussle with a family member (in man-of-the-house takes the floor Festivus style) then, those excess calories can easily be worked off.

"It's really consistent overeating that puts on the weight," says Loveland.

She also suggested alternating caloric drinks with non-caloric drinks (Schlitz, then water, Schlitz, then water. Got it.) Grazing beforehand can also be stealth.

"Most people eat 900 calories before the meal from just snacking," says Loveland.

But, then, we've also heard it's a bad idea to sit down at the table starved because then you'll over eat. What to do... what to do.

A few of my kick-ass friends and I employ these strategies for healthy holiday eating:

• Eat pie first, then you're less likely to eat too much turkey, which just makes you tired.

• If you feel the urge to puke after dinner, just let it happen. Mental association can be a really effective tool here: back of your jaws clench, mouth starts to water...

• Lay a piece of string over your mound of mashed potatoes and imagine it's your ass in a thong bikini.

• Only eat with a knife.

• Imagine putting on Spanx ... kind of like trying to stuff biscuits back into a can.

• Visual imagery also works well. Think of the grossest thing you've ever eaten and associate it with a dish on the table. Like, a cat hairball in the Jello salad. (You think it's purple sliced grapes.)

• Sit next the most obnoxious or disgusting family member so that you'll either lose your appetite or eat faster.

• Or, go full scale. Get your heart rate up in heated arguments with family members. If the fight escalates to involve physical contact, all the better. Plus, crying hysterically can burn up to 25 calories!

• Most important, never eat so much that you can't get your buzz on. That's JV.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.