“People who stretch out their consumption of leftovers for days or weeks think they’re being all clever and resourceful, but in reality they’ll just end up making more batches of fatty gravy to pour over leftover turkey, or they’ll buy another five-pound tub of calorie-packed potato salad to go with those dozens of rolls no one ate,” said Sharon Walker, who holds a PhD in food psychology and chairs the university’s feastology department.
Walker says that while most people think that eating two or three plates of food in one sitting is excessive, the human intestinal tract is capable of handling much more. For example, when an average stomach is removed, she says, it can be inflated with air to be big as a Toyota Prius. However, she warns people who follow her advice to expect some physical discomfort.
“Your body will go into a type of shock, and you’ll wonder if what you’re doing is dangerous, but that’s the result of what’s called ‘patterns of negative thinking,’” Walker said. “The truth is that if you can force yourself to swallow the contents of those nine Tupperware containers in your fridge, and finish off the three pies no one touched, your body will end up expelling most of the intake without having digested it, without having absorbed any of those nasty carbs and lipids and whatnot that cause you to develop unsightly holiday love handles.”
Even if you feel like you’re about to burst, Walker says, it’s vital to press on and conquer any remaining food. In her private practice as a nutrition coach, she even allows her clients to take a short break to vomit, but only if there’s no other option.
One unexpected difficulty people new to this practice face is that chewing so much may cause their jaws to become sore. If that happens, Walker says, it’s okay to slightly revise the plan of attack.
“There’s no reason why you can’t put all the baked ham and mashed potatoes and stuffing into a blender to make a tasty leftovers shake, which is actually easier to consume if you get a straw that’s wide enough to prevent cranberries and such from getting lodged,” she said. “Also, blending and serving your holiday leftovers is a great way to involve infants and elderly relatives with no teeth.”