Thanksgiving is here! With that comes FOOD and for many of us who have a sketchy relationship with food… anxiety. What to do when faced with all the carbs and sugar? Do I have to give up everything I love in order to stay the size that I am? Will I gain 5 pounds by looking at a piece of pie? Or for those of us who have received so much healing through nutrition – will I have a relapse in my illness if I mess up on one day?
We hear so many mixed messages this time of year regarding what food will cause what, what we need to avoid, what will pack on the pounds, etc. Don’t even get me started on the images that display the calorie counts for a typical plate of Thanksgiving food. It is so exhausting! I’m sick of rules and restrictions regarding my holidays. I don’t want diet mindset to destroy my joy. I want to live in FREEDOM.
So I’ve come up with some reminders and tips for surviving the holiday food explosion. I hope they will help you as they have helped me.
1. The mindset you have about your food is more important than the food itself.
I truly believe this. When I have a mindset of restriction, it makes me bitter and resentful. It can even lead me to eventually overdo it completely. I’ve spent many holiday seasons saying to myself things like this, “Well, I already screwed it up by having a cinnamon roll for breakfast. Might as well go crazy the rest of the day.”
However, when I give myself freedom, when I tell myself that I can eat anything I want, that I have the choice to eat anything I want, it changes my mindset. I then can focus on what foods are going to make me FEEL the best. There is so much freedom in choice. It helps me to relax. Which leads to the next one…
2. A body that is stressed CANNOT digest.
Meaning, if you are stressing about the food that you are eating and beating yourself up about it, you will not digest it the way you should. It will be toxic to your system.
Take some deep breaths before eating, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Eat mindfully. Listen to your stomach. If you’re eating too fast, slow it down! Put your fork down in between bites and engage in conversation with the people you love. Take an interest in your surroundings. Good food is so much better in the company of loved ones.
3. Movement is a reward in itself, not a price to pay for indulgence.
Oh, the years I spent thinking I HAD to run on Thanksgiving in order to make up for all the calories I would consume later. It took the joy out of my running, put me in the wrong mindset, and caused unnecessary stress. Somewhere down the road, it became a habit that I looked forward to – not because it was needed to counteract the overindulgence, but because I loved having that quiet time to reflect on the day. It worked to IMPROVE my mindset when I started my day off with a run or walk. And again, mindset is KEY.
4. Take probiotics and digestive enzymes.
I can’t stress how much this helps me with digestion. While other people complain about bloating or other not-so-nice stomach concerns, I can sit back and relax comfortably because I’ve been mindful and followed steps 1-3 AND I’ve taken my supplements. I love my probiotic that is a 3 in one product that includes enzymes and antioxidants. I will double up on the dose for special occasions like this. This goes for my kids as well! My oldest is sensitive to gluten and dairy and this keeps her from digestive troubles in the middle of the night.
5. Take activated charcoal capsules.
Activated charcoal is awesome because it binds to toxins and can help rid the body of them. It helps me when I have had gluten, dairy, alcohol, and sugar in one setting, which can often lead to unfavorable side effects the following day (brain fog, stomach upset, depressed mood) even with my awesome probiotic in use. I like this one. Which leads to my last tip…
6. Know your triggers.
My triggers will not be the same as yours. Everyone is different. I can be mindful with some food items, but there are some things that make my dopamine light up like crazy and I just. can’t. stop. I have to be prepared to address that, and give myself grace if I fail. It is only one day. It’s only food. I want to enjoy my day, relax, and be fully present with the people I care about.
It’s taken me a long time to process through and heal from my negative relationship with food and the diet mindset. Taking care of my mental health is extremely important to me. Stressing over my food intake on ONE day is not going to do any good for my mental well-being.
I can’t wait to spend my Thanksgiving with the people I care about. I am so thankful for the food freedom I found and the ability to choose how I want to feed my body, mind, and soul!