10/10/2014 09:33 EDT | Updated 12/10/2014 05:59 EST

Thanksgiving dinner: how to eat as much as possible

Yes, we all know Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, family and celebration of the harvest.

But for many — it's also about that orgy of indulgence, the Thanksgiving dinner.

So, how does one make the most of this once-a-year occasion to eat as much as possible?

CBC Radio's The Early Edition got advice from the experts.

The eating competition champion

Cody Jensen is Vancouver's reigning meatball eating champion, and he won Bao Bei's Dumpling Derby, plowing through 37 dumplings in two minutes.

His strategy? Beforehand, he eats a light breakfast of toast and eggs, and drinks huge amounts of water — a trick he learned from studying the world's great eating champions.

When the big moment comes, it's pure animal instinct: "I'm just like a snake. I just swallow it, try to chew little bits, and then I just gulp."

The all-you-can-eat buffet owner

Steve Ram, owner of All India Sweets and Restaurant in Vancouver, says the key to eating lots isn't speed.

"I find the [customers] that come in with a huge plate, eat quickly, and they really can't [eat] anymore," Ram says.

Instead, he recommends you set aside several hours for the meal — as many of his customers do — and take many small portions.

Other tricks of the trade? Arrive hungry but not too hungry, and don't waste precious stomach space on water.

The dietitian

Desiree Nielsen says the science shows that eating quickly can override our mental cues for fullness.

"I definitely wouldn't recommend this professionally, but the faster you go, the more you're going to outwit your body's capacity to say no," she says.

As much as Nielsen advises against overeating during the holidays, she says that, unless you have an underlying health condition, an indulgent meal once a year won't hurt you.