Thanksgiving Dinner Creative Commons Via Flickr

This is not a health post. This is not a diet post. This is a post on how to be as American as possible on this most American of holidays (only behind Independence Day, in which we set food, the sky, and ourselves on fire as God intended).

This post is live as of 9:45 a.m. If you have not had breakfast yet, go light. A biscuit, or cereal, and a little protein is all you need. Don’t start the day heavy. After all, your grandmothers/aunts/moms have made 45 side dishes and you have to sample all of them.

Drink a cup of coffee around 10 or 10:30. That will suppress any lingering hunger. Drink plenty of water, as well. The ideal lunch time is between 11:30-12 when the line forms around the countertops in the kitchen. With all the choices, you’re going to be overwhelmed.

Here’s my advice for lunch: A regular (not serving spoon) spoonful of each dish you’re interested in. Sample your family’s wares, in a sense, and make a game plan for round two, because of course there is a round two. That’s your favorites round. For me, that’s seconds on sweet potatoes and dressing, among some family originals like baked cheese spaghetti (it’s delicious). Go crazy on the meat, though. It’s meat.

Hard Mode: Dessert Round – Yep. You went for seconds and didn’t think about dessert, didn’t you? Luckily, you prepped for this. The coffee and water are wearing off, and only sampling the side dishes helped. You can go the sample route OR pick one and go. I do NOT recommend multiple desserts at lunch. Did it a couple years ago, and it was a rookie mistake. Supper was miserable.

Between lunch and supper, you’ve got to get some rest, sure, but it also helps to work off some of that food and get your body ready for tonight. My family has a tradition of a massive family football game. Uncles and dads and sons and nephews and even daughters and nieces and moms and aunts. Everybody. Sure, you run the risk in bigger families of having more than 11 players on either side of the ball, but it’s fun to mock chase down the four-year-old carrying the ball all the way into the end zone.

When dinner rolls around, you should be ready. If you’re at a whole new place for the evening, same strategy as lunch. If it’s leftovers, though, oh man. That’s the best part.

Leftovers Strategy: All The Carbs – Turkey sandwiches are the absolute best tonight. Toast the bread and spread some leftover cranberry sauce on a slice for an extra flavor. You’ve still got some dressing and gravy, mind you, so get some of that in. The carbs are how you end the day because carbs are somehow happier nutrients. Close out with dessert.

Southern Strategy: Turkey Gumbo – If you’re in the Gulf South, particularly here in Louisiana, a gumbo at the end of the day using the leftover turkey carcass and meat is how everything ties together.

Gang, you can do this. I believe in you. Now, get your pants on and limber up. It’s time to rock Turkey Day.