Thanksgiving is over, but this is just the start of the holiday season. The holidays are supposed to be about reflection, love, compassion, and gratefulness; however, this is often a time of anxiety, remorse, and obsession for many people. Especially those struggling with eating issues.
In my experience, the holidays used to mean severe anxiety, then guilt… all focused around food. I had a difficult time counting my blessings and being thankful during the times spent with family and friends. Throughout the years of my own recovery, there has been a slow transition to peace, enjoyment, and acceptance.
This Thanksgiving, I felt zero guilt at all after the meal. I built one plate of all my favorite foods. I did not restrict earlier in the day and I did not hold back on taking the foods that I most enjoy. The difference this year, is that I have 100% accepted where I am at, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the environment, and I happily enjoyed the delicious foods prepared by 3 generations of women in my family. These foods were made with love for all of us to enjoy together.
Here are some of the things I have done to transition the holidays from stress to contentment. These are tried and true strategies that I have used to calm myself and learn to enjoy the moment with family, rather than focusing on the food:
- Eat normally before the meal – I know we hear this all the time, but this one made a HUGE difference for me. I had a small carbohydrate-rich breakfast before I ran the Turkey Trot, then I had a high protein snack before our meal. There is no reason to starve yourself before the meal to “save your points” or to give yourself more permission to eat. Just eat normally throughout the day and the Thanksgiving dinner meal will feel like any typical dinner.
- Get in some movement – this is not to make you feel better about what you eat, or to burn calories, but to move your body in ways that you truly enjoy. I love running the Turkey Trot because it is an awesome way to spend time in my community with other individuals that love to run. I run the Turkey Trot with a college friend – it is a time I truly enjoy seeing and connecting with him!
- Wear clothes that make you feel good – often I hear clients say that they wear baggy clothes to hide their bloatedness after the meal. This is fine if baggy clothes are what you are comfortable in; but if you have another style that you love, make sure to wear this to your dinner party. You will feel better throughout the entire day.
- Take the foods you truly enjoy – in my family, we eat stuffing once (maybe twice) per year. I make sure to take a good helping of stuffing on Thanksgiving, knowing that I am not going to get it for another year. I also fully enjoy any desserts that I don’t get throughout the entire holiday season, like my mom’s pecan pie.
- Hang out with the children – it is so fun to watch the children in our family eat what they want and stop when they are full. As adults we lose the innate ability to do this. It is mesmerizing to watch these youngsters eat exactly what they want, stop when they are full, feel no guilt, and go about their day.
- Have meaningful conversations – I always make sure to touch base with everyone at the party, especially those that I typically have great conversations with. These conversations create connection with that person and allow you to get lost in the moment; kind of like getting lost in a good book. You will more than likely get so deep into the conversation that you will completely move on from the meal and forget about any leftovers.
Enjoy yourself this holiday season. Be mindful, include peaceful practices, and allow yourself to enjoy every special moment.