Before I begin, and before you get any wild ideas about where this post is going, let me be clear. This post isn’t a “healthified” blueprint to conquering Thanksgiving without gaining “x, y, or z”. I will not be providing recipes on how to eliminate this or cut down on that. And I surely will not be spending the next 10 minutes encouraging ways in which you can earn a damn thing. Nope! BUT! What I hopefully leave you with, is inspiration for your truly healthiest, happiest, guilt-free and gratitude stuffed Thanksgiving EVER.
If you’re still reading, you’re my kind of people and I thank you for being here.
Revamp Your Take on a “Healthy Holiday”
What emotions come to mind when you think of Thanksgiving? Excitement? Gratitude? Or is it something else entirely? Maybe, for you, Thanksgiving is a holiday that is anticipated for weeks prior and over analyzed for weeks to follow. Riddled with anxiety over the amount of food you could, should or cannot eat and the guilt that’ll be felt once you do. I’ve been there. For as much gratitude as we share over this holiday, we almost equally share in destructive thoughts, behaviors, and fears around food. I hope that we can change that. I hope that with intention, support and a whole lot of compassion, we can begin caring less about what’s on the table and more about who’s around it.
Revamp Your Thoughts
If what consumes your mind controls your life then it should be to no surprise that your thoughts have a direct impact on the way in which your body responses to and digests food. Stressing over food is much more harmful than any food you’ll actually be eating.
- Stay present and enjoy the food you’re eating. Food doesn’t have to just be fuel. It is possible for food to be fun and a way in which we can connect with those around us.
- Know that it’s okay if you overeat. Fullness isn’t worthy of shame or deserving of guilt. If you find yourself uncomfortably full after a meal, remember that your body has the ability to process what you’ve eaten. Try to take your mind off of your body and do something that distracts you for 30 minutes (call a friend, paint your nails or watch a football game) This discomfort WILL pass.
- Don’t compare what’s on your plate to anyone else’s. Your bodies needs are entirely different than those of your sister, your mother or your great aunt Darla. It isn’t fair to make assumptions about what’s on their plate in relation to yours. Tune into how YOU feel and what’s going to satisfy your own needs. Two people can eat the exact same things but the way in which their body absorbs or excretes energy is never the same. Only you know what’s best for YOU!
Though it’s unreasonable to never expect to have a negative body image or unhelpful thought cross your mind again, what we can control is the one that subsequently follows.
Revamp Your Interactions
For many, diet talk on Thanksgiving has become just as much a tradition as the Macy’s Day Parade. The good news? It’s never too late to change the narrative and create some new traditions (a.k.a. boundaries) that don’t reinforce food fears or shame about the way in which our bodies look.
- Don’t comment on another’s body/food` choices. No matter what.
- Shift the conversation. There are SO many incredible things to converse about that have absolutely nothing to do with how a person looks, what they weigh or how much food they did or did not eat.
- Set boundaries. Try hosting a conversation about what you’ve deemed to be inappropriate or unhelpful about your body, wellness or food choices (or that of your children/spouses). Though boundaries can be hard to set initially and uncomfortable to confront, imagine future moments that allow you to be present instead of in constant preparation of the next harmful remark.
- Leave the room. If you aren’t able to change the conversation, maybe it’s time to change the atmosphere.
Revamp Your Behaviors
Though controlling the people around you and the way in which they speak about food may be out of the question, we do have control over the actions we take and the ways in which we can better prepare ourselves for a wonderful holiday.
- Avoid labeling foods as good or bad. It’s important to begin eliminating shame around food and our bodies. Labeling food one way or another places a moral value on them which further contributes to shame when we inevitably find ourselves eating something we deemed to be “bad”. When we judge our foods, we inadvertently judge ourselves, further perpetuating self-punishing behaviors. Foods are not black or white.
- Don’t fast or restrict until dinner time. This is the easiest way TO overeat and make eating mindfully difficult.
- Listen to your hunger cues, and more importantly, honor them!
- Exercise? Sure! Inherently there is nothing wrong with movement on Thanksgiving (or any other holiday), in fact, our family has found events such as the local turkey trot a perfect way to bond and an activity we can all do together in celebration of our bodies. HOWEVER! If you are going to exercise on Thanksgiving, here are some things to consider:
- What is your intention around movement? To burn off? Make up for, or earn your calories?
- Is guilt associated to the movement?
- What would happen if you didn’t move your body? What if you ate and rested?
- Do you even like “trotting” in borderline freezing temps!?
i’ll leave you with this:
Thanksgiving, in particular, can be one of the toughest holidays to work through if you have an eating disorder or struggle with disordered eating behaviors. As much as I hope this blog can be a source of encouragement, I want more than anything else for you to know that you are not alone.
If you’re still reading, and if you’re still interested in learning more or doing more to set yourself up for success this holiday season, I created a quick, but informative worksheet for you to customize a “Guilt-Free Turkey Day Toolbox” to mentally accompany you this holiday season!
Click the button below to grab yours!