Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a stuffy day full of shame and an uncomfortably stuffed stomach. Use these 9 tips to enjoy your holiday dinner without the side of guilt!
I love food, especially holiday food! My mouth waters just looking at the grocery ads in November – brown sugar hams, golden brown turkey breasts, mashed potatoes dripping with gravy, crispy green bean casseroles – I love it all!
When I was 100 pounds overweight, I always looked forward to Thanksgiving (hello, massive banquet of goodness!), but on the day itself, it was not a joyful feast. I felt so guilty about loving the rich foods I did, especially in front of my family, that I tried to put on a happy, healthy mask for the day. I pasted on a smile (while sitting up straight in uncomfortable clothes) and tried to eat the bare minimum while others were watching (but snuck food whenever I could).
I basically overcompensated in every way I could to distract everyone from the fact that I was overweight and loved food. Thanksgiving ended up feeling uptight, stuffy, and full of shame and an uncomfortably stuffed stomach. It’s a lot of work pretending to be something that you’re not.
It doesn’t have to be that way! You can enjoy the meal and the company while being genuinely you.
Allow Yourself to Be You
Whether it is your food preferences or your parenting style, don’t be ashamed of being you. Fight the fear that you should look, feel, or behave in a certain way just to fit the mold you think others expect you to fit. Pull down the masks. Be kind, be authentic, and be genuinely yourself.
You already know your Thanksgiving meal is going to be a big meal, so look at what time you will be eating dinner, eat a good breakfast, and plan some healthier snacks throughout the day. It will keep you from feeling starving by dinner time and it will help prevent you from emptying the chip bowl as you wait. We eat what we see, so try to keep snacks like fresh fruit and vegetables visible and available throughout the day.
Add Healthier Options
Instead of removing the foods you love from your Thanksgiving feast, try to add in some delicious, but healthier options. We had a delicious sweet potato apple gratin in our family meal this year! Try to add those things to your plate first. Then you are more likely to take smaller portions of the heavier foods. Don’t forget to drink lots of water as you cook and also as you eat! It will help you to feel more full and it also helps to fight against the sodium-heavy foods in your meal. You can even make it festive by throwing in some cranberries and orange slices.
I like to run on the morning of Thanksgiving because it gives me more energy for a long day and it puts me in a better mood. I know some people have traditional Thanksgiving family football games (like on Friends!). Go on a morning walk to catch up with your Aunt Sally or spend time playing tag or hide and seek with your grandchildren. It keeps you active while still enjoying family time!
Don’t eat things just because they are there. I usually like to taste everything (because you never know when you might find your new favorite food!), but you don’t want to fill up on foods you don’t really care about. Skip the cranberry sauce if it’s not your thing or take a small spoonful of the green bean casserole if it isn’t your favorite. If you look forward to your mom’s homemade stuffing all year long, make sure you’re not too full from munching on other dishes to enjoy it! Eat what is important to you.
Let yourself enjoy your favorite foods! Even if they are unhealthy. Even if you don’t want to like that salted caramel pumpkin cheesecake as much as you do. Thanksgiving is about being thankful for the blessings in your life, so be thankful for the wonderful food, too! Give yourself permission to enjoy it.
I get it – feeling everybody’s eyes on you, judging you, as you reach for another roll. I used to go into stealth mode to sneak food from the kitchen whenever I had the opportunity, but that’s a dangerous mindset to fall into. Stop hiding your food choices! Don’t let those self-conscious feelings creep in, worrying about what everybody else thinks about your food choices – it just steals your joy and brings in a load of guilt every time you do it.
Stop When You’re Full
Enjoy the meal. Eat the things you want to eat, but still pay attention to your body. Don’t stuff yourself silly! It just ruins the wonderful food. The first 3 bites or so of each dish let you enjoy their peak flavor, but after that, it tastes less and less wonderful. And that overly stuffed, bloated, too-full uncomfortable feeling just sucks the goodness from an amazing meal. Stop eating before you hit that point so you don’t spend the rest of the day moaning and groaning on the couch.
Quit the Clean Plate Club
I know how hard it is to stop, especially when things taste good, but when you are full, STOP! Even if there are two bites of mashed potatoes left on your plate. You don’t have to waste it – pack it up in some Tupperware to have later when it will actually taste good again. Don’t ruin a good thing by eating out of obligation!