The table is set as families gather around the dinner table. Plates are piled high with mashed potatoes, turkey and stuffing. For Ball State swimmers and divers, however, while their plates may be full, they still try to stick to their dietary plans. 

According to the Calorie Control Council, Americans eat up to 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving. 

Many athletes from the team said they still try to stick to their dietary plan during this high-caloric holiday.

Senior Maryn Meldrum and her family usually have a Cajun-style turkey, sweet potatoes, spinach pie and corn. 

Before the Meldrums eat their meal around 4 p.m., Maryn and her dad go to a yoga session in the morning. 

When she is at home, Meldrum said she doesn’t do any grocery shopping, which is important to her diet plan.

“I just eat whatever’s at home and my family eats relatively healthy,” Meldrum said. “My parents don’t eat a lot of processed foods, so I just have a lot of fruit.”

For junior Jack Luddy, he said he still attempts to follow his diet plan, but considers Thanksgiving to be a cheat day.

“Thanksgiving is full of lots of high-calorie, fatty foods that taste really good,” Luddy said. “I don’t really worry about my diet plan on Thanksgiving. A couple days a year wouldn’t hurt.”

Luddy believes that following a diet plan is important for swimmers as they burn a lot of calories in the pool. According to a study by the American College of Sports Medicine, an international association representing the low- and reduced-calorie food and beverage industry, a 155-pound person swimming freestyle for an hour will burn 704 calories swimming fast and 493 swimming slow. 

“If you want to get better, you can’t just be improving in the pool,” Luddy said. “You have to be improving in the kitchen. I know I have worked, personally, and a lot of the guys here have all worked hard getting good diet plans down.” 

Madison Hayes, a graduate assistant for Working Well, a Ball State program that provides employees with tools to empower them to proactively manage their health, said swimmers should consider eating between 500-700 calories for a Thanksgiving meal, but they should also feel free to be more lenient with their diets. 

“I think it’s also about mental health and enjoying yourself,” Hayes said. “Especially for athletes that follow a really restricted diet, It’s probably a good time to let loose a little bit and enjoy yourself.”

Calories and carbs aside, Luddy said swimmers and divers feel this holiday isn’t really about eating, but being around family.

“It’s good to go home and see the family,” Luddy said. “It’s always a fun time getting together with my family, especially when I only go home twice a year.”

Contact Patrick Murphy with any comments at prmurphy2@bsu.edu or on Twitter @PMURPH505