Yup – I am giving you full permission to ignore every “stay healthy during the holidays” article you see from now until January 1.
The truth is, the “tips” that these articles provide are not that helpful or that sustainable for getting through the holiday season feeling GOOD about your choices, rather than frustrated, deprived, or guilty.
“Don’t arrive hungry.”
This tip is diet culture at play – telling you that you CAN’T have what is served at Thanksgiving, so you should eat something else first.
But food is meant to be enjoyed, and Thanksgiving is all about enjoying it in the company of others!
And let’s be honest, you aren’t just going to sit at the table sipping water while food gets passed around (nor should you!), so this tip really just sets you up to eat twice.
On the flip side, don’t “save up” your calories or “save room” for the big meal by skipping breakfast or lunch. If you arrive STARVING, you will be a lot more likely to overeat and less able to stop and make mindful decisions.
And bonus, this method is the easiest: just eat as you normally would on any other day!
Just eat as you normally would on any other day!
“Stand far away from the table.”
This tip is a lot like that old mind trick, “Don’t picture a pink elephant.” What’s the first thing that pops into your mind?
If your holiday is taken up with anxiety about where the table is and how close to it you are, you’re not making room for the things that matter, like focusing on the experience with the people you choose to celebrate with.
Plus, this is really just another disguise for diet culture in the form of avoidance. Making that table “off-limits” is not sustainable.
At some point, you will need to learn to live with that holiday table rather than avoiding it – after all, it isn’t going anywhere! And do you really want to feel this level of anxiety EVERY Thanksgiving, EVERY Christmas…?
“Just have one bite.”
I’m going to amend this tip. How about, “Have one bite, and then decide if you want to keep eating.”
You can have more than one bite. You can even finish the whole thing! But it can be helpful to have a bite or two, then slow down and DECIDE whether you’d like to finish what you’re eating.
If it isn’t doing it for you after a couple of bites, you don’t have to finish it just because it’s there. Or, if you are really enjoying something, go ahead and enjoy every bite, without the guilt!
You will need to learn to live with the holiday table rather than avoiding it
“Healthify your dish.”
You DON’T have to “lighten up” everything. For a while, I was the person bringing paleo and grain-free desserts to EVERY family gathering or holiday get-together. But truthfully, I ended up eating WAY more chickpea cookies than I would have if I’d just let myself have the real deal and move on.
You don’t need to be afraid of grains, fats, or even sugars in moderation – and a real-deal dessert is likely to be more satiating than an approximation.
If you love your aunt’s classic pumpkin pie, have a piece! You’ll feel better eating some of the real thing than half a pan of an almond milk, almond flour, low-sugar alternative.
This doesn’t have to be a be-all, end-all rule (are you seeing a pattern here?).
When you finish eating your first place, take a second to pause and assess. Do you really want more food? If so, what will you get more of and what do you want to leave? Again, slowing down will give you more choice and help you feel “in control” – because you are!
You may choose to skip seconds on the sweet potato casserole that was just okay – but go to town on more of that turkey and gravy!
The truth is, you don’t need more mainstream fitness messaging telling you that some foods are “bad” and should be avoided at all costs. Instead, you should enjoy your holiday meal AND feel good about it the next day!
Still feeling some anxiety over your Thanksgiving get-together and the cascade of holiday food to come after that?
Right now, you can get Holiday Headstart, complete with my Big Holiday Meal Guide, for $50 off!
I’ll walk you through how to handle the week leading up to Thanksgiving, the morning of, during, and after the meal, so you can feel prepared for any Thanksgiving table!
The best part is, these strategies are #EmpoweredEating tips you can use at ANY time of year, not just now – there are always going to be events with food. You might as well have a surefire way to navigate them confidently instead of feeling that anxiety about them each and every time there’s something social on the calendar.
Don’t miss the sale – grab Holiday Headstart before Sunday, November 21!