Thanksgiving is kind of the unofficial national binge eating day. Many of us tend to use Thanksgiving as an excuse to let loose, to allow ourselves the foods we deem unhealthy and intentionally overeat to compensate for what might have felt like an entire year of restriction. I know I’ve been there.
But just because there is an abundance of food available doesn’t mean it needs to be a reason to eat to the point of discomfort. If you DO overeat, as many of us do, simply enjoying the sheer plentitude of food– that’s ok, too– it doesn’t change anything about you. But I wanted to provide a few tips for approaching Thanksgiving day with confidence, especially if you’re on your intuitive eating journey.
Just because there is an abundance of food available doesn’t mean it needs to be a reason to eat to the point of discomfort.
1. Remember you have permission to eat those foods any time (yes, really!). Holiday food is special, and there ARE some foods you don’t get other times during the year, but know MOST of these foods are foods you can make any time (without ruining your health!). You don’t need to eat them all in one day because they’re there OR because you feel like you can’t have them when you’re ‘back to eating healthy’. Food is JUST food. Health is SO MUCH more than whether or not you eat stuffing and cranberry sauce on occasion, Thanksgiving or otherwise. Practice choosing what foods sound good to you, which foods truly sound satisfying and are YOUR favorite.
2. Avoid trying to ‘save calories’ for the main meal. Begin your day exactly as you normally would- move if you want to (no obligation whatsoever), drink lots of water, have that coffee and EAT BREAKFAST. Depending on when your afternoon meal is, you may or may not want to have lunch, but this doesn’t mean ignore your hunger. Eat when you’re hungry, whether that be a snack or a meal- even if you are having a big family meal later. This will help you approach the meal CALM, and not starving (we never make good decisions when we’re starving/feeling deprived). Your body will regulate its hunger and fullness according to what it needs (or doesn’t). You don’t need to ‘save’ calories.
Your body will regulate its hunger and fullness according to what it needs (or doesn’t). You don’t need to ‘save’ calories.
3. Tune in. A really great practice is to tune into how your body feels before you get to the event. Ask yourself, “How does my body feel right now? Am I actually hungry? What sounds good to me, before I even see what is available?”. Rather than arriving, guns blazing, you can enter the room calm, already having an idea of where your body is at. It’s ok to choose to wait to eat if you’re not quite hungry yet (it’s also ok to have a couple nibbles, here and there if that feels good to you). Practicing tuning in throughout can be helpful, too. Check in with your hunger/fullness, ask if your body needs more water, if you’re actually eating according to what YOU desire and not what is available/being served to you (there needs to be NO guilt if you aren’t able to do this, distractions are normal– do your best).
4. Take time for you, if needed. There is NO shame if you need to take a few minutes to yourself to regroup, go for a walk or a drive, take a few deep breaths alone if you’re feeling overwhelmed- by food, people, the experience. You have a right to self-care. I had a friend tell me she makes sure there is space for her husband to take a nap when they’re event-hopping at family homes, because he gets exhausted and overwhelmed. What a great wife, and what a great reminder we could all use to honor our needs (whatever our ‘nap space’ is to us).
5. Enjoy the day! Enjoy the food, after all- Thanksgiving is very much centered around food, but it is, ultimately, about being grateful for all that we have. So take the time to be grateful for the people you love and are spending time with (even if it’s your cat, people! Gratitude is available everywhere). Enjoy the company, your kids excitement at the parade, the taste of your wine, experience the day, rather than just making it about the food.
Enjoy the company, your kids excitement at the parade, the taste of your wine, experience the day, rather than just making it about the food.
Last but not least, know it is 100% ok if you do end up overeating a little bit. It happens to all of us, and there is no need to do ANYTHING different, now or tomorrow, if you did overeat. It was just one day- trust in your body to regulate itself, and make sure to care for yourself tomorrow, too, by tuning in, drinking lots of water and honoring your body- no restriction needed.
Ok, let’s have fun: what thanksgiving food are you most excited for??
Do you feel more like the grinch than santa claus around the holidays (especially around food)? Or maybe you feel A LOT MORE like Santa Claus and are afraid you’ll end up eating ALL. the. cookies. at every party, again this year. I’m here to help you balance the holiday season with calm, not control. Join me for my free Healthy Balanced Holiday Email series, starting on November 30th. Join for free + get the workbook delivered right to your email!