With Thanksgiving and the holidays coming up, here are some tips to keep in mind so that you can enjoy the holiday and the food that comes with it:
Five Tips for a Mindful Approach to Thanksgiving:
1). Avoid drastic restrictions or fasting before your Thanksgiving meal. By restricting early on, you’re more likely to go overboard — eating much more than you normally would during the meal and reaching far past feeling full. Instead, treat it like a normal day by aiming for a balanced and nutrient dense breakfast and lunch before.
2). Ditch labeling food: Good or bad. Healthy or not healthy. When we label foods into these categories we associate emotional feelings with them right off the bat. What happens when we eat a “bad” food? Sometimes it leads to feelings of guilt; other times it leads to overconsumption of a bunch of “bad” foods because you “fell off the wagon.” Labeling foods or food groups in this way can be a slippery slope, not just on our minds, but on our bodies as well. It also creates this idea that nutrition has to be black and white, super clear, or a one-size-fits-all formula, which we know isn’t true (progress)… Take a more mindful approach to Thanksgiving by ditching labels, and instead focus on what purpose food serves and how your favorites fit within a healthy and balanced diet.
2). Be mindful: Going into Thanksgiving without restriction, the main goal is to be mindful of your hunger and satiety (feeling full) cues. Can you make healthier substitutes or choices? Sure, but you don’t have to…
Instead, eat with intention. Hungry? Want some pie? Go for it. This is different than eating something just because it’s in front of you/because it’s Thanksgiving… If you’re full and didn’t get to enjoy a bunch of your favorites: take them to go, freeze them, and/or eat them on your own terms vs. making the most out of one meal. For more on mindful eating, check out this blog post, where I share four mindful eating tips for firefighters.
3). Focus on gratitude: What you have, where you are at this point, the people in your life, the positive situations, the things your body can do. Practice self-awareness and gratitude to improve negative body image issues that might influence your thoughts to restrict from creeping up during this time. Gratitude practices might also help during the holiday season, which can be a stressful and overwhelming time. Plus, studies find that people who practice gratitude are happier in general, so why not keep it going past Thanksgiving?
If you’re interested in taking it to the next level, practicing affirmations with phrases starting with “I am __________ “ (fill in the blank), have also been shown to improve a positive mindset to attract the best – from confidence levels, to a dream job, to money, to feelings of trusting what’s next to come. Ready to put it all in action? Try writing down 3 statements of gratitude and 1 affirmation per day during the holiday week.
4). Enjoy the company: For most, getting together during the holiday season is a time to catch up with loved ones (who you might not see very often). Instead of it being solely about the food, remember what the holidays are about – they bring everyone together in one place. The food is an extra bonus. Taking this approach might also take the stress off of the idea that food has to be the main focus, allowing you to view it as another day that you get to enjoy food for what it is all while creating new memories with friends and family.
5). You do you: This phrase is one of my absolute favorites that you can find me saying on the regular. What works for one person doesn’t work for all. Moderation in itself looks different on every person. Focus on you and stay in your own lane – in regards to uncomfortable conversations or any peer pressures surrounding food and what you’re eating. Doing so can allow you to do what’s truly best for you, without thinking of other’s thoughts or judgment that might be going down, especially at the holiday table (because sometimes the company isn’t as enjoyable as you might want it to be).
Food provides so much for us – from nourishment to fuel to enjoyment. Let’s not forget how amazing it is. My hope is that these tips allow you have a more mindful approach to Thanksgiving by taking small steps to shift your mindset to reflect positivity – with your relationship with others, yourself, and food during the holiday season. If there’s anything I promote, it’s that taking small steps add up, and consistency creates long lasting changes.
I’m here to remind you that Thanksgiving is one day. One day. So, please enjoy it however you see fit. Then get back to your groove (this is important) the next day. Regardless of what you eat, how much of it you eat, if you exercised or not — don’t use the days afterward as punishment.
Cheers to a lovely and relaxing holiday experience filled with all of the good food and grand company.
P.S.: If you’re struggling with restriction and looking to ditch the diet culture and create healthy lifestyle changes, check out my eBook resource, Fast Food Reinvented, which will come with a special holiday bonus of Food Freedom Reinvented — ditch diet culture, restriction, and guilt during the holidays (if purchased from 11/26-12/3). What is Fast Food Reinvented? It’s not a cookbook, a strict regimented diet, and it’s not a meal plan; it is a resource (consisting of a guidebook and recipes) that gives power to the consumer with a no stress or fuss approach. The goal: make eating healthier less complicated and personally tailored to you and only you. By the end of it, you’ll trust yourself to be the compass of your own health and decisions, become a budget savvy shopper without effort, and create satisfying and healthy meals with ease.