Thanksgiving, a time to give thanks for all you have and enjoy the day eating delious food with loved ones. Sounds good, right? This holiday can act as a huge trigger and bring alot of anxiety to those suffering with an eating disorder. The entire day is allegedly built upon the foundation of food. The expectation is to eat, A LOT!
For the many struggling with eating disorders, this day can be very overwhelming; eating off schedule, eating risk foods, food prepared by others, worrying about what and how much they eat before the holiday even started. Then add the stress of being “watched” by family members. And of course there is always diet or weight talk by some relative! “I’ve gained 20lb this year, starting new with my diet after the holidays”, “I’ve been eating so good all week so I can indulge today”, “I’m starting my 3 day cleanse tomorrow”, “You look so skinny have you been eating”? There always seems to be some kind of conversation regarding weight, diet, and exercise. I’ve heard it in my family as well, and I quickly give the evil eye and change the subject. Nope, sorry, I will not allow this conversation in front of my chidren or be the topic of conversation on a day I am looking to relax and be thankful for all we have. In fact, I will not engage in fat talk or the latest diet trends anytime!
Take the focus off the food, calories, and weight. Enjoy being with family and friends and take pleasure in honoring your hunger with nourishing foods as you should any day of the year.
Tips to Survive Thanksgiving for those with eating disorders or disordered eating:
1. Steer Clear of Negative Body Talk! Don’t allow others to make comments about how bad or good they’re being, how they need to work off the food tomorrow, or how they worked out this am to stuff themselves. When others start using negative body talk, shift the conversation! Let’s talk about what we are grateful for.
2. Don’t Restrict! Restricting before a holiday meal is a sure way to lead to a binge. Eat a balanced breakfast and premeal snack. People talk about Thanksgiving dinner like it’s the last meal. But, there are no rules stating you have to eat yourself to the brim. Eat as if it is any other day.
3. Honor Your Hunger and Fullness. Allow yourself to eat when feeling hungry and listen to your body when it say’s you have had enough. You do not need to eat it all today, as you can have some again tomorrow.
4. Partner Up! Have someone to lean on that truley understands what you are going through. Either someone physically there or someone you can call or text. Step away and use your coping strategies.
5. Affirmations! Put an end to the negative thoughts and replace with positive affirmations, “Food is not the enemy, it is nuturing and healing”, “I am strong, fierce, and brave”, “I am worthy of love from myself”.
6. Forget The All or Nothing Mindset. Depriving yourself of special holiday foods or feeling guilty over a food choice is not helpful. Listen and be in tune with what your body wants and needs.
7. Remember the Reason for the Season. Although it seems Thanksgiving is all about food, try to remember what it is really about. Focus on what you are grateful for and honor your journey to recovery by eating foods you want, listening to your body’s cues, keeping your support system close by, and avoid engaging in “fat talk”.
Remember, the food you eat and your size does NOT define you or your worth. Enjoy the day and have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving! – Suzanne Iovanni, Building Better Nutrition