You guys, I get it. Thanksgiving week makes everyone stress out over their healthy-eating, lean-body goals. The internet is abound with articles on how to make healthy versions of old favorites, tips to sneak more vegetables into your meal, and tricks to avoid bloat. I know all about these tips, because I’ve written a handful of them every year for various publications who want a “fitness expert” to weigh in on some fluffy, feel-good ways to avoid the real issue.
So whats the real issue? I would say the issue lies with the cultural importance we place on this ONE MEAL. More so than any other meal, we are culturally conditioned to believe that Thanksgiving must hurt. It must be epic. It must induce guilt. We must stuff ourselves until we have satisfied the curious urge to be uncomfortable for the sake of tradition.
Why is this? Who knows. Maybe the pilgrims and Native Americans just ate until they were blackout-full, and then someone called out from the fetal position “Henceforth this day shall be one of terrible tummy-stuffing!” I don’t know. What I do know is that eating 3000-4000 calories in one sitting (apparently that’s the average) is a lot. It’s unnecessary. It’s not good for you. It’s a culturally sanctioned binge. It’s bad for fat-loss.
But ya know what else?
IT’S NOT REALLY A BIG DEAL.
I mean, if you’re gonna get after it… get after it! As far as I’m concerned, eating 2 days worth of calories in one sitting once a year is probably fine. Actually, in this fantastic Huffington Post article, health and fitness rockstar Adam Bornstein explains exactly why it’s not that big of deal.
But there is even more of a reason to give in to the really, truly decadent foods that normally wouldn’t be anywhere near your fat-loss plan, and that is… satisfaction!
I believe that satisfaction is a crucial element to any successful long term fat-loss plan, and I’ve seen over and over again that that people who use low-satisfaction foods to lose weight end up rebounding and putting that weight right back on. In the short term, things like fake sweeteners, low-fat recipes, and other “diet” foods can be helpful to cut calories, but if they’re not deeply satisfying then they are much, much more likely make you feel deprived and cause you to binge later. I don’t advocate low-satisfaction versions of anything actually, because it ruins your current moment and makes you resent your future. Working toward your goals becomes easy and joyful when you are able to fully give into the pleasure of the current moment. This is why I eat bacon, kiss with tongue, and wouldn’t touch low-carb Pumpkin pie with a ten foot pole.
Because having the exact thing you’re craving- giving into the full, decadent version of your desires- makes you able to stop when you’re satisfied. It keep you from feeling deprived. It lowers your chances of eating more than you need or binging again later, and it feels luxurious. When you’re done you can leave it there (physically and emotionally!) and move on with your day and your life.
So without further ado, here are my 3 tips to do Thanksgiving dinner right:
1. Check it. Consider your normal Thanksgiving eating habits, and ask yourself… Is it for for your own satisfaction, or is it for someone else? Is it because the food gives you a deep sense of Home, or it is because you just don’t want to miss out on the experience of over-eating with everyone else? Think about what it might feel like to just eat healthy that day, a few bites of everything for example, or maybe just a big plate of the protein and veggies. If you decide not to binge, great. If you decide to, great. But Thanksgiving dinner does not happen to you… you happen to it. So make a conscious decision, and then own it.
2. Get satisfied. Eat what you really, really want. Go for the stuff that makes you feel fully indulged, whether that’s the full-fat version of gravy, or pie-for-breakfast (my mom’s favorite habit). Pay attention, savor and enjoy it. Eat slowly. And cut yourself some slack. Don’t go in with two conflicting goals, like “enjoy the meal AND stay lean.” That’s a recipe for guilt and disappointment. Try going in with just the one goal- enjoy the living daylights out of every bite you eat. Give yourself permission to live fully, presently, and joyfully in that meal with your beloved friends or family. Commit to your own satisfaction.
3. Let it go. Did you eat until you had to be rolled to the couch last year? Honestly, if you followed steps 1 and 2, probably not. But fine, maybe you did. Here’s the biggest trick of all, the one that magazines and gyms and products don’t want you to know, because it doesn’t set them up to sell you on “fixing your mistakes” after the holidays: Forgive yourself, let go, and move on. Oh did you eat too much? So what? Changing the story you tell yourself about it is crucial to getting right back into the groove of a healthy lifestyle and happy heart. Get rid of “I am bad” and replace it with “I consciously chose to be nourished.” Get rid of “I have to be really good to make up for this” and replace it with “What a wonderful break for my body, heart, and soul.” Let go, and let grace.
Oh and speaking of which… this is a holiday about gratitude. So offer thanks for your first-world problem of having too much to eat. Offer thanks for your body, which works so hard to maintain homeostasis, despite what you throw at it. Offer thanks for all the good and bad in your life that has made you who you are.
I personally would like to offer my deepest, most volcanically grateful thanks to all of you who support me, read and share my posts, and allow me to pursue my purpose on Earth.
I will eat full-fat mashed potatoes in your honor. <3
I’m passionate about helping women learn to love their bodies no matter what they look like. If you’re new here, I want to offer you a gift to get you started– a *free* copy of my new ebook!
Body Image Alchemy: Why You’re Still Failing to Love Yourself, and 6 Ways to Level Up.
Just enter your email address HERE to download your copy, plus I’ll be sending you some insider tips, exclusive content, and other self-love goodies!
Please follow and like us: