The fear of gaining weight is real. This socially constructed fear (fatphobia) can make Thanksgiving stressful, instead of enjoyable as it is intended. I’m here to encourage you to ENJOY your Thanksgiving and let go of how much you weigh before and after. The best part? You can do this while still being “healthy”! The reality is, our weight is constantly fluctuating plus or minus 5-10 pounds. When we listen to our body’s internal cues such as hunger and satiety, our body will find it’s natural weight. That’s one of the main tenets of Health at Every Size. To read more about why you should stop dieting and start living your life, head over to this blog post.
Disclaimer: this blog post might be triggering to those who have an eating disorder and is not meant to replace professional help.
While I want to divert your attention away from your weight, I do want to offer some tips on how to enjoy a healthy Thanksgiving. This might just make your holidays more enjoyable and less stressful. <Raise your hands if that sounds good!>
8 Tips on How to Enjoy a Healthy Thanksgiving
- Engage in movement as a family. Why? Because movement is more fun with people, especially your loved ones. This will help decrease stress, boost your energy, increase your metabolism to help you process your yummy foods, heighten your mindfulness to allow you to enjoy the present moment, among so many other benefits of exercise.
- Eat a normal breakfast. I’ve heard many people skip breakfast to “save up” for the big Thanksgiving meal. This isn’t a great idea. You will likely be ravenous and have a hard time correctly gauging when you are full. (Your body is in fact really smart and making up for the period of starvation!) Because you are starving, you will likely eat very quickly and not enjoy your food as much. Instead, listen to your body in the morning. When you are hungry, enjoy your normal breakfast.
- Eat your favorite foods and try to ENJOY them without guilt. Load up your plate with your favorite foods and with foods that make you feel good. For example, I know that I need vegetables on my plate because my digestion will be happier later. I balance my plate with a variety of foods- mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, pumpkin pie – it’s all going on my plate. Food is mean to be eaten and enjoyed – without a side of guilt.
4. Eat intuitively and stop when you are full, not overstuffed. This is a hard one that takes practice. I know I’m definitely one to eat more on Thanksgiving, because it’s Thanksgiving! You can definitely keep this tip in mind, but I’ll also encourage you to be kind to yourself if you eat even when you are full. Your body knows how to process food and will return to its setpoint in the next few days of normal eating. For more information on intuitive eating, head over here.
5. Eat normal after Thanksgiving. I’ve also heard people eating less than normal the day after Thanksgiving. (See tip #2 on why skimping on meals is a bad idea) Instead of intentionally restricting yourself, listen to your body. Are you hungry? Honor your hunger and nourish your body with food.
6. Focus on gratitude for your family and friends. Thanksgiving is all about being with the ones you love. If you find yourself obsessing over your calories, try to focus more on the people around you. Engage in deep conversation, give someone a compliment, play a fun board game, or watch your favorite movie.
7. Stay hydrated. If your family is anything like my family, you might indulge in beer and/or wine. In order to avoid a headache the next day, be sure to stay hydrated. This can also help encourage moderate drinking.
8. Avoid language about exercising to “burn the turkey off”. So what if you indulged in yummy foods. You don’t need to go to the gym for hours the next day to “burn it off.” Don’t get me wrong, getting some movement in post-Thanksgiving is healthy and good for you. But, if we engage in this language, we might get stuck in this cycle of exercising to earn our food and/or exercising to burn it off. Instead, try fueling your body for life and moving your body to feel good.
Do you have friends and family members who regularly engage in diet talk? I wrote a blog post called “Boundaries: Holidays Without a Side of Diet Culture” to offer tools to set boundaries with loved ones.
Hopefully you got some ideas on how to enjoy a healthy Thanksgiving without feeling like you are missing out. Most importantly, try not to overthink it so you can enjoy the time you have.
Need more support around creating a healthy relationship with food and your body? I’m currently accepting new counseling clients- both online and in downtown Raleigh, NC. Head over to my contact page to inquire and learn more about my counseling services here.
If you celebrate, Happy Thanksgiving!
With good intentions,