There’s an ongoing joke in our house: Whenever family comes over for the holidays, someone inevitable walks into the kitchen and immediately asks who all the food is for. And it’s true, my mom cooks for an army every Thanksgiving, and we eat like an army. This year, though, I wanted to make a deprivation-free attempt at eating a little bit better than usual. And, of course, I tracked the experience to see how it made me feel.

9 am: I straggle downstairs in search of coffee. It looks like my 13-year-old cousin (who is still attempting to sleep on the pull-out couch) is the only other person who understands just how early it is. I get myself coffee, and as I do, the Pumpkin Spice Krispy Kreams are taunting me (yes, those are actually a real thing. No holds barred in the Fitzpatrick family). I know the key to not overdoing it later is having a filling, healthy breakfast now, though. I compromise. I have half of a doughnut, am still starving, and wash it down with a small bowl of Kashi Heart to Heart Honey O’s with skim milk.

11:45 am: I’ve been draped across the couch watching the parade all morning, and it’s really working up an appetite. Also, I’m starting to smell the turkey. I grab a banana and almond butter to snack on now, because I don’t want to miss a minute of the National Dog Show when it comes on at noon (the Working Group is totally my fave— the Burmese Mountain Dog was robbed of Best in Show!).

12:45 pm: Hunger is starting to creep back, and we’re more than an hour from dinner. I poke my nose into all the various casserole dishes to see if there’s anything I could skim without drawing attention. There isn’t (cue the stern look from Mom). I go for a mug of spiced cider and a handful of mixed nuts instead.

2 pm: Dinnertime! I’m relatively certain I’ve worked up exactly the right appetite— I’m hungry without being ravenous.

2:12 pm: Still shuttling food from the kitchen to the dining room. I’m wishing I’d sat down sooner and left this step to the pros.

2:15 pm: The table’s set, everyone’s sitting. We pause for photos.

2:22 pm: I have a plateful of food. Everything’s gone around the table (or at least, I’ve gotten everything— priorities, people). Time to dig in.

2:40 pm: I start slowing down. I’ve cleared about half my plate, moving meticulously from turkey to stuffing and mashed potatoes, followed by green bean casserole, turnips, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, cranberry, and applesauce. I actually manage to stop myself after one serving of almost everything. I have a second teensy scoop of green bean casserole though.

3 pm: Dinner is officially done. We’re simultaneously migrating leftovers to the kitchen and bringing out the pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving pudding. I take a lap around the house for a breather. I’m definitely comfortably full. And getting sleepy.

3:04 pm: I grab a cup of coffee before plopping down in front of my small, lightbulb-sized piece of pie. I almost wanted to wait a couple hours, but my Nunu (yeah, that’s what we call my grandma. So what?) is already talking about packing up and taking home the leftovers. I am not missing my only opportunity for pie.

3:25 pm: I’ve finished my pie but haven’t moved. As long as everyone else is still sitting, I’m taking advantage of the opportunity. I’m officially just a smidge too full.

3:48 pm: Everyone’s begun clearing plates and claiming leftovers. I know I need to dive into the fray if I’m going to get any mashed potatoes. My Nunu and aunt stay in the kitchen washing dishes, and I feel too guilty to leave. I finish loading the dishwasher and start it.

3:58 pm: Everyone’s gathered their Tupperware and hit the road. I’m fighting the urge to take a nap, because I know it’ll leave me feeling sloth-like and gross. Interestingly, I think the fullness has peaked. I’m beginning to feel less like I might explode. I suggest we go get the Christmas decorations out of storage (partially in order to keep myself awake; mostly because I’m just super, duper excited it’s officially the Christmas season). Mom takes a nap.

8:45 pm: All I’ve eaten in the past five hours is a couple handfuls of mixed nuts left out on the table. I retrieved and assembled the (blech— Florida) fake Christmas tree and I’m finally really, truly hungry again. I bust out the container of green bean casserole and dig straight in. About halfway through I realize it’s not especially appetizing. I switch gears and make an almond butter and cranberry (sweetened with honey) sandwich, washed down with spiced cider. That keeps me going ‘til the ornaments are hung and it’s time to pass out.

All in all, I definitely think I could have eaten worse this Thanksgiving (but I probably could have eaten better, too). I got to have some of everything, though, so I don’t feel deprived. How did you do at the dinner table? Anyone else manage to fend off the food coma?