Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. If I'm honest though, that wasn't always true. In fact, when eating disorders were a real struggle for me, I would experience anxiety over the very thought of Thanksgiving for weeks leading up to it. I would get anxious because historically Thanksgiving was a day when my eating disorder spun out of control. The day would inevitably end with me feeling sick and ashamed. Now, on this side of healing, I’m so thankful to be able to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in freedom. So, whether you simply want to enjoy the healthiest Thanksgiving possible, or you find yourself facing the same struggles that I used to, I pray that what I share today from my own journey will help bless and prosper yours. My hope is to help you to enjoy victory and freedom yourself this coming holiday.
Fill up on the Word of God First!
Honestly, this tip applies every day. There are days when I need more help to walk in victory though. It's on those days that I know it’s especially important to be sure I fill up my soul first. When our spirit is nourished and satisfied, we are so much less likely to fall victim to filling up on things that will never truly satisfy. I encourage you to wake up early on Thanksgiving to spend time with the Lord first. Enjoy time in His Word. Begin your day with prayer and worship. A healthy spirit leads the way for a healthy body! If you’re not sure where to begin, the Psalms are a wonderful place to go. The Psalms are filled with declaration and praise for who God is and how He loves us. Simply praying the words of the Psalms is a powerful way to really express to the Lord how thankful you are for His blessings!
After spending time with the Lord, I like to make time to exercise on Thanksgiving morning. I find that if I align my spirit with the Lord’s first, and then prepare to care well for my body by moving it, I make better choices all day long. Whether you head out for a run or walk, or join a fast and fun Thanksgiving class at your gym, getting some exercise before the meal is a great idea!
Don’t Starve Before the Meal!
I used to set myself up for bingey behavior by starving myself all day leading up to the Thanksgiving meal. I would restrict myself all day so I felt “allowed” to stuff myself at dinner. I’ve found that a much healthier and successful approach is to eat normally leading to the meal. Enjoy a moderate, healthy, normal breakfast and lunch so you don’t sit down to the dinner table starving. You’ll find that you actually enjoy the meal more when you don’t stuff yourself so far beyond comfort.
You Don’t Have to Go Overboard!
Interestingly, most people accept the assumption that on Thanksgiving everyone will absolutely stuff themselves to the point of discomfort. I’m not exactly sure why or when Thanksgiving came to represent a day to go absolutely crazy with food. Many people will over stuff themselves to gluttonous degrees. In reality, it’s not unlike any other meal and can be completely enjoyed without the need to severely over eat. I would encourage you to be mindful of portions, try to choose portions sizes similar to those you normally would. Eat and enjoy your food, but when you sense that you are approaching satisfaction, begin to slow down and stop eating when you’re full. Your mind, body and spirit will thank you!
Only Choose What’s Really Important to You!
We all have those certain foods that make Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving. For me, the thought of cauliflower mashed potatoes makes me want to cry! My aunt makes amazing potatoes. I know they are chock full of butter and heavy cream, but they are important to me so I choose them. On the other hand, I don’t really care too much about gravy or pie crust, so I skip the gravy and make crustless pumpkin pie. My point is this, it’s helpful to get in the habit of evaluating your food options and only choosing the things that are really important to you. Fully enjoy eating those foods that feel special and satisfying to you and let the other options pass you by.
Be Present and Thankful!
Food is a big part of Thanksgiving nobody will deny that, but remember that it’s just ONE part. This year, be really present and notice all of the things you really are blessed with. Notice relationships, health, family, warmth, beauty, freedom, and bountiful blessings. Don’t allow shame or guilt over one meal to steal your joy and peace. When we allow food to have so much power that it clouds our ability to be present and thankful, when it’s our foremost thought, we know that we are giving food far more power than it was ever intended to have. Enjoy the day. Don’t rehash what or how much you ate. Be present, enjoy your meal and enjoy your blessings.
Get Right Back to Normal!
I have a phrase that I teach people when I’m health coaching them. It’s simply learning to say, “Tomorrow, I will get back to normal.” I find that so many people go to extremes after life events like holidays and commit themselves to restrictive diets or resolve to follow some type of extreme diet plan. They say things like, “tomorrow I’m back on my diet” or “I’ve been so good, tomorrow, I’m getting back on track”. My encouragement to you is to get in the habit of removing those types of thoughts, words and phrases from your speech and instead, simply return to “normal” after extraordinary circumstances. Life provides so many wonderful celebrations where we enjoy foods and beverages we might not normally. The healthiest approach is to give thanks for these times and then simply return to normal behaviors. No extremes, no diets, no regrets. You simply re-choose a normal, healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner. Learning how to quickly return to normal without going to extremes after enjoy the extraordinary times of life like holiday’s, weddings, and vacations is a huge step toward true freedom in the area of eating.
Have a Plan for Leftovers!
My final tip is one of my favorites! Have a healthy plan ahead of time for how to handle leftovers. If you’re anything like me, I LOVE to have Thanksgiving leftovers. They tend though to be foods that are very high in fat and calories. I want to freely enjoy them at the Thanksgiving meal but not for days afterward. One of the most successful things I’ve learned to do is to prepare healthier alternatives to enjoy as leftovers versus taking leftovers home. For instance, I usually take plenty of turkey since it’s lean and fits into my “normal” eating routine, but I prepare in advance things like, mashed potatoes made only with chicken broth, Skinny Pumpkin Pie or Flourless Pumpkin Pie Protein Cupcakes , and low-fat stuffing like this Apple Cranberry Pecan Stuffing recipe to enjoy in the days following Thanksgiving. I enjoy all the taste of Thanksgiving leftovers while also enjoying normal, healthy eating.
Above all else though, my deepest hope that you will give thanks to the Lord. For He truly is good and His love for you endures forever! Have a blessed holiday!