With Thanksgiving next week, a lot of mixed emotions come up for me. Most people would say, "What the hell are you talking about? It's Thanksgiving. Eat and be merry!" But if you are like me, and I know you are out there, you struggle with holidays due to the food and your inner demons.
Don't get me wrong. I'm stoked for Thanksgiving. It's one of my favorite holidays because it means family time, getting into football (slightly), and plopping on the couch to talk, snuggle, nap. I'm so thankful that I get to spend the day with my family who is in town and that my fiancé will be home for it. He travels a lot, so it's a treat when he's home for holidays. My mom is an amazing cook. I know everyone says that, but really, she is. Like chef school status.
So what's the problem? Well, it usually goes one of two ways.
1. I say, "It's Thanksgiving! Stuff yourself while you can." It's kind of like if you were in prison and it was your last meal, so you grab everything and swallow it whole because you know you'll never eat it again. You don't even put your fork down or chew or drink in between bites. You have your firsts, seconds, thirds while people are still halfway through their first helping. Then you feel sick, and you feel guilty a few hours later.
2. I say, "You'll regret this tomorrow. Grab only the healthiest things. You can have a bite of stuffing. Don't fill your plate. Don't go back for seconds. Dang, I forgot about mashed potatoes. Can't have those. Dessert is out of the question. Okay, maybe one bite of pie. Shit, why did I do that?" Your entire meal is distracted by thoughts and feelings of guilt, calculations, and questions. You don't even see your family or converse with them. You just see food, and the guilt that's associated with it.
Neither of these are healthy (or sane). It actually makes me so mad just thinking about it. I'm not mad at the food or the holiday, I'm disappointed in myself. In letting it get to this point. So, I'm taking a stand...against myself. I will not sabotage this beautiful day or the time with my family or the delicious food that will be spread out. I will not sabotage my well-being. I will not sabotage my spirit. I will not sabotage the mental progress I've made in the past few years.
I'm going to enjoy every dish, every bite. I'm going to savor it all. I will put my fork down. I will go slow. I will breathe. I will listen to my body, more importantly my stomach. If any guilty thought comes to mind, I'm going to push it away. Better yet, I'm going to punch it straight in the nose. I'm going to savor every moment with my family, by putting my phone down and really listening, even if it's just the silence of everyone napping around me. I'm going to celebrate Thanksgiving like you're supposed to. Like I did when I was a kid, where there were no troubles and food was just meant to be eaten and enjoyed.
Tips during the holiday...
Spend as little time on your phone as possible, especially on social media. Sure, post a few pictures if you want. I sure will. Focus on the moment.
Don't compare yourself. Everyone celebrates differently, and everyone will go about the holiday in their own way. Maybe someone is going to brag about the salad they're having or how much they'd rather have fruit than stuffing (I don't buy it). Don't let their "healthy choice" make you feel guilt. You do YOU.
Listen to your stomach. Start small with portions. Take breaks between bites. Close your eyes and really taste the food. Don't over-stuff yourself. Listen to the messages your body sends you. There are differences between deprived, satisfied, and stuffed. When you respect your stomach and really tune into what your body tells you, you will find the right balance.
Push away guilty thoughts. This is tough. If you feel the guilt creeping up, just breathe, accept that the thought came into your head, and then replace it with a better thought. Look around you. You're with loved ones. You are fortunate to have food on the table. There should be no room for guilt.
Say no to leftovers. You don't need to keep Thanksgiving rolling for 3-4 more days. You celebrated the day, enjoy that you did, and say goodbye until next year. If someone offers, politely say no. If you are hosting, maybe find a shelter that takes donations. You'll feel less apt to keep them and eat them if you have a good cause to give them to.
Remember, one unhealthy meal won't make you fat and one healthy meal won't make you skinny.