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Best way to prepare stomach and self for huge evening meal?

I've been thinking about this issue because the time of year where we are endlessly assaulted with gargantuan celebratory meals is almost upon us.

If you have a big meal coming up that evening, conventional wisdom would dictate that you eat very sparingly during the day, right?

So it's weird when one reads about competitive eaters doing anything BUT fasting before taking on 60+ hot dogs...

Personally, I feel it's better to eat normally during the day, otherwise, for whatever reason, your stomach shrinks and you get full after the first few bites. Anything afterwards is torture.

The period in my life when I was really taking down the vastest quantities of food was when I was living in Burgundy and making frequent trips to Alsace. I would be served these 8-course Sunday lunches that lasted nearly 5 hours, and miraculously be able to have several slices of pizza for dinner - and being in France, we were often eating cream/bacon/potato pizzas (some kind of Tarte Flambee/Pizza abberation, I guess). I guess the long, slow, heavy meal prepared my stomach for more than I ever thought I could eat in one day.

So, what are your tricks for prepping your stomach for the holiday season? To fast or not to fast?

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  1. I find when I eat breakfast (something I do rarely), I'm hungrier come lunchtime. Stimulating the metabolism, I guess.

    I don't plan to starve myself Thursday -- I think we're eating at 2:30, so I'll have a light lunch/brunch around 11ish, maybe sandwiches or eggs.

    1. Not to fast. Definitely. I find when I eat a lot less than normal in anticipation for a big meal, I just end up overcompensating when the meal comes and end up being way too full. And if I really cut back, sometimes I will end up feeling a little sick because my blood sugar has dropped too low. So that's no way to prep for a big meal.

      I try to eat sensibly (but just little lighter than normal) during the day and avoid anything too fatty/sugary/rich. With an evening meal, I'll have something like oatmeal or cereal for breakfast (with perhaps some turkey bacon for protein) and a sandwich for lunch. Between lunch and dinner I'll have something like an apple or granola bar - or even a bowl of cereal - so I'm not completely starving before dinner.

      I've found this approach has kept me full enough throughout the day but not so much that I've gone overboard with calories so I have plenty of room to indulge.

      1. yes eat a light, preferably whole grain based breakfast. you can also munch on candied ginger & make sure you are well-hydrated BEFORE you eat the meal-- i always eat more meat during family holidays & it helps my system deal with richer-than-normal foods that otherwise might make me sick

        1. "being in France, we were often eating cream/bacon/potato pizzas (some kind of Tarte Flambee/Pizza abberation, I guess)."

          I forget the name, but isn't that also a Swiss thing, or maybe from the Rhone-Alpes region?

          3 Replies
          1. re: Peter Cherches

            it's hardly an aberration. in germany and alsace they call it "flammekuchen", and when well-made it is delicious.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              Flammekuchen IS tarte flambee (note the cognates).

              I'm saying the combination is an abberation - it was on pizza dough, with tomato sauce and mozarella IN ADDITION to the classic tarte flambee stuff, as well as potatoes, which I don't think are traditional on flammekuchen at all.

              1. re: frenetica

                lol, ok, that IS an aberration. sounds like drunk food. :)

          2. No fasting. I think depriving oneself of food all day long only sets one up for ravenous hunger and wild gluttony come suppertime. ;)

            Eat breakfast. If you have time, go for a run or squeeze in a workout. Exercise always does a body good and balances out the caloric sabotage you'll be doing when you tuck into that second piece of pie. It's all about finding that balance between enough sit-ups and enough pie.

            1. snack lightly during the day and then don't eat for at least a few hours before the big feast...
              i find if i don't eat bf then i don't get hungry all day, if i eat a big breakfast, i'm starving again by noon, or a bit after

              1. Don't fast. Really bad idea.

                Eat a good breakfast with fat, protein and lots of fiber. Think eggs, and buckwheat crepes/pancakes.

                Eat a light meal (cereal would be my choice) about 3 hours before dinner.

                Make sure your dinner has a good deal of fiber in eat, to ease digestion of a rich meal. That's why I always serve my Karlslaw and a mixed-grain pilaf (with lots of bulgur, maybe farro or hulled (not pearled) barley, in addition to rices (even brown rices are pretty light in the fiber dept, though most people don't realize that), et cet.).

                Drink plenty of water when you fell full.

                Get up and walk around, and go breath refreshing air (easy here in New England this time of year) deeply (from the diaphragm, not the upper torso). Repeat as necessary. Add stretches too. Digestion of a large, rich meal is work, and you need to be aware of that. Then sleep.

                The *next* day, you may eat abstemiously with easy-to-digest foods, and not too much of them.

                1. I eat small meals/snacks throughout the day (including up to the feast time) if I know I'm facing a big feast that night. If I go into a large meal with a completely empty stomach and stuff myself I sometimes very soon after experience er..."significant gastrointestinal distress" (sorry for the trip to Toomuchinformationville).

                  Keeping my system awake and aware all day, then taking it easy during the main meal itself definitely seems to help me enjoy more of the meal and avoid unpleasantness.

                    1. I don't celebrate thanksgiving, but prior to Rosh Hashana dinners and passover seders, I will make a concerted effort to run/walk to the house that I'm to be dining at. I drop off a bag with my clothes for the evening, toiletries, etc, the day before, and then make my way over to the meal in the late afternoon.

                      I find that when I do this, I'm less inclined to overeat (usually because I'm so tired from the run before I even sit down at the meal - I have a hard time keeping my head up after soup comes out!)

                      1. We usually eat aroun 3pm, so we just eat breakfast around 8 am and since we set out dips and veggies about an hour before dinner, you can munch a little to fill that hungry sensation.

                        1. I tried starving myself once, was handed a cocktail on arrival and promptly got smashed. I can barely remember the food and the wine-- which was clearly excellent but I couldn't appreciate it.

                          From now on: small meals, fresh air and exercise.

                          1. Why do you refer to yourself as "one"?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Steviegallagher

                              Hi, stevie:

                              8 years later, who knows? But if one (not just the writer, maybe even you) were to read the OP fairly, one might glean the meaning. ;)

                              This is an ancient thread, but I'll add that a good digestif is one of the best ways to deal with too much/rich to eat. For example, Underberg. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01... Jaegermeister and the Chartreuses will also work.