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How to Eat at Thanksgiving

Like many, the holiday season is my absolute favorite time of year. Hands down. When I was little, everything felt cozy, exciting, and magical. But, as I got older and became insecure about my body, things about this season changed. Suddenly everything I ate was tainted by feelings of guilt.

Looking back, I’m infuriated that I missed out on so many happy memories with friends and family by endlessly worrying about everything I put in my mouth, all the exercise I wasn’t doing, and how I looked in new fall clothes that were a size larger than the year prior.

Throughout the holidays, news and social media outlets are booming with subtle and blatant fat phobic messages. Countless articles discuss how to avoid overeating, prevent the holiday bulge, and how to maximize time in the gym. While the authors are well meaning, they fail to serve the long-term wellbeing of consumers.

In an effort to combat this messaging, I’ve come up with a few reminders:

1. Your body is acceptable and has the right to exist in this world exactly as it is at this moment.

Thinking otherwise will not get you anywhere good. Remember to offer your body some gratitude for carrying you in this life. It’s the only body we get and there’s no sense in ruining your relationship with it. We don’t help the things we hate. So when you hate your body, you set yourself up for bad self-care.

When you have mean thoughts about your body (or from a well meaning loved one), try and thank those thoughts for getting you to where you are today. Let the thought know that you are learning to love the body you are in so that you are able to support it more fully.

2. You have the right to make your own decision about partaking in physical activity or not. Without feeling guilty.

Something I hear people talk about all the time is the amount of exercise they need to do in order to “work off” all the extra calories they have consumed. Exercise is not a punishment, but you make it one when you use it as a way to compensate for perceived overeating. Not only does this set you up to have a bad relationship with exercise, it’s an unrealistic and unsustainable way to manage your body size.

Of course that’s not to say that you shouldn’t exercise during this season.Physical activity can be a powerful tool in managing stress and boosting your mood. Do what feels right! Sometimes it takes some trial and error to strike the right balance between physical activity and wellbeing.

3. You have the right to choose which foods you eat and how much. And that’s actually good for your health.

If you’re new to intuitive eating, this mindset can be difficult to get your head around. But, it’s actually an innate ability that most of us bury in order to follow external cues and eating directives.

These directives usually originate from well-meaning guardians who tell you to clean your plate before you can leave the table, or that you aren’t allowed to have a snack because dinner is an hour away. These directives led us to distrust our body’s own set of internal cues and desires.

I vividly remember hearing my grandma commenting to my parents that I was eating a lot at a buffet brunch when I was 9 years old.I’d never considered the amount of food I ate. I merely consumed food based on how my body was feeling without regard to how the food would affect the size of my body. This errant comment was one of many seeds planted that culminated in over a decade of disordered eating.

To honor your body’s hunger and fullness cues, you must disregard the comments and suggestions of friends, family, magazines, and even medical professionals. You have to trust in yourself that you will make the right decisions, but it might take some practice.

4. You have the right to enjoy your food.

This one ties into #3. Choosing foods that are the most satisfying will be key in creating an enjoyable experience this holiday season. That sugar-free pumpkin pie? Yeah, that might not make the cut… I can see myself bursting with cravings for days on end after such a dismal excuse for a pie.

Instead of choosing foods you you should eat based on some website, I’d recommend that you, EAT THE REAL THING. Enjoy it. Savor it. You’ll be happier in the long run.

While we can’t make decisions for everyone else, we can choose how we respond to their actions and words. Stand strong and remember that self-care and wellness is a lot more complex than our body size.

512-650-8853  |  Austin TX

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