Pack It In: How To Eat It All This 4th of July

July is pretty much here (I know – where the eff did June go??), and I can’t help but notice more American-themed fashion/toys/food crowding the retail shelves just about everywhere.  At first I was confused (I mean, that red, white, and blue dress is cute, but wasn’t Fleet Week a while ago?), then it dawned on me…Independence Day.

After about a minute of feeling guilty about almost forgetting our Nation’s birthday, I started to remember why I adore the 4th of July so much.  I get to spend time with my family, spend all weekend drunk and in the sun, and eat massive amounts of food.

This year, however, I decided I wasn’t going to puss out after just three servings of barbecue.  So, I did a little research and gathered some tips from the masters (read: the competitors in the yearly Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest!).  Now you guys can join me in celebrating the founding of America the only way that is appropriate – by eating more than anyone else on the planet.

Don’t Starve Yourself Beforehand – When you starve yourself, you’re actually making your stomach shrink (in addition to being a pretty bad move in general).  Keep eating before the big day and you’ll  keep your appetite up.  Besides, who wants to rock that crazed, hungry person look during the family picnic?

Prepare Your Stomach – Assuming that you aren’t Takeru Kobayashi, you probably don’t eat like a maniac on a normal basis.  Therefore, you might have to stretch your stomach out to make room for all those amazing Independence Day meals (ribs? burgers? corn on the cob? Droooool).  Use this week to chug water and chomp on mad lettuce – you’ll expand your stomach in no time (thirds, much?).

Strategize – There are a million different delicious dishes (or calories) to be had at a Fourth of July barbecue (okay, maybe not a million, but close), so you might wanna take a second and think about what you really want to be filling your stomach up with.  Do you want the meat sweats or the ice-cream coma?  Pick your favorites and stick with them.

Do The Wiggle – It sounds crazy, but if you take a dance break (as in, wiggle your hips from side-to-side for 10-15 seconds and throw in a couple jumps here and there…that counts as dancing, right?), your food will pass through your esophagus faster and get all mashed up in your stomach.  More room for cake!

Exercise – Aside from being a generally good idea, working up a sweat will mentally and physically prepare you for  your day of eating.  Don’t overdo it – just some light cardio will get your appetite ready and raring to go.

Don’t Fill Up On Liquids – Although there’s nothing quite like a frosty Coke on a boiling hot day, stay away from carbonated and sugary drinks.  They’ll fill you up and take away valuable space that you can use for a hot dog (or four).  Stick with water to lubricate your digestive system (and to soften up those buns before you shove them down your throat).  Small sips while you chow down should do it – save the chugging for the beers by the campfire later.

Keep It Fun – Make your Independence Day feast into a competition a la Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.  Challenge your brothers, sisters, cousins, and/or crazy aunts and uncles to try and take the title from you.  Nothing says family like competitions and eating. And reversals of fortune.

Accessorize – Nothing says massive amounts of eating like an awesome sweatband and stretchy pants.  Thank goodness fashion is at a point where flowy, maternity-like tops and leggings are fashionable enough to wear at social outings.  That way, no one will be able to tell the difference between your aunt’s real baby and your food baby.

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