How to Navigate Thanksgiving

Hi friends!


Happy Monday!  Hope you had a great weekend!  We had a busy weekend helping family move which is always tiring but fun to have the time with family.

Today I wanted to talk about Thanksgiving.  That’s right, it’s this Thursday!  Did that sneak up on anyone else?  Also, it seems very early this year which didn’t help.  For many, Thanksgiving can be an anxious holiday that leads into an anxious season.  The busyness of the season, the pressure to host parties and events, the pressure to get allll the gifts bought in a timely manner, and the food…goodness, the food.  There’s almost this expectation at Thanksgiving to gorge ourselves on so much food we feel sick.  We have a ‘last supper’ mindset that we have to eat all the pumpkin pie we can because we only get it once a year!  Then Thanksgiving turns into holiday parties, turns into Christmas, turns into New Year’s and before you know it, you’re out of touch with your fullness cues (because you’ve pushed past them so many times), you’re uncomfortable (because you’re stomach is chronically over full), and you probably don’t feel great (because you’ve been eating a lot of heavy, less-nutritious foods that don’t make your body run very well).  It can also be a stressful time if you’re really trying to go for specific fitness goals or trying to tune into your body more.  You’re worried that not eating a ton at each event will lead someone to think you don’t like their cooking, or you’re being too restrictive.  Whatever the case, I have 5 tips for you to help navigate Thanksgiving…and really any social event or holiday over the coming months.


1. Take a deep breath.

I know this sounds cliche and ‘woo-hoo’ but it’s true.  If your body is in a stressed mode going into Thanksgiving or a big meal, it turns on its ‘fight or flight’ sympathetic nervous system.  Basically, your body reserves fuel at all cost because it can’t tell the difference between a stressful meal time or you being chased by a bear.  Stress is stress to your body, no matter what causes it.  When this happens, your body shuts down certain processes in order to ‘preserve its fuel’, and one of these processes is digestion.  You literally won’t digest or absorb your food as well, if your body is stressed while eating it.  Taking a few breaths before each meal, will signal to your body, ‘it’s ok’, and help you get back to your parasympathetic state (basically your neutral state) so you can enjoy your food and digest it well.

2. Choose foods you only really want

It’s so easy to go into a big meal or social event and want everything.  It seems as though they always have all your favorites and we have this mindset that we only get those things at parties or holidays.  Keep in mind, grocery stores sell pumpkin year round.  You can literally have a pumpkin pie, any time you want!  No need to eat 534 pieces at the holidays because you feel like that’s the only time to have it!  When you go to these big meals and parties, look for what you really want.  Is there a special treat, that only your grandma makes and you want to save room for it?  Do you love turkey, but never feel like cooking one on your own, and want to make sure you eat some?  Only eat the things you really want.

4. You don’t owe anyone validation for their food

This goes hand in hand with #3…you don’t need to validate anyone’s cooking.  Don’t EVER feel the need to eat something just to please someone else.  You know your body better than anyone, and you know if something will upset your stomach because of the ingredients, food allergy, or just because you’re full. If there’s something you put on your plate that is not as appetizing as you thought, don’t feel the need to finish it.  If you don’t like a dish that’s being served, don’t eat it.  You have every right to feed your body what you want, not what others want.

However, I do understand how difficult it can be to say no to someone offering you food or pushing more food on you just because they cooked it.

Here are a few of ways to politely say no…

  • Oh that looks yummy, but I’m too full right now, thank you.
  • That looks good, but if I ate that I would be uncomfortably full. Maybe I could take some home with me and try it when I’m hungry again?
  • No thank you, I’m sure it’s good, but I’m really trying to listen to my body and it’s definitely full.

3. Slow down and listen to your body

This one is HUGE!  One of the biggest tips I tell my clients, to help them realize their fullness and help them not overeat is to SLOW DOWN.  We eat so quickly as a society and oftentimes, we eat even quicker when we’re distracted at a social event.  Pay attention to what you’re eating, how it tastes, and how it’s making you feel.  When you start to feel full, put your silverware and your napkin on your plate, and push it a little bit away from you.  This will signal to yourself that you’re done and you’ll be less likely to ‘pick’ at your plate longer (which oftentimes, leads to overeating).


4. Eat before you go

This is one I’ve often been guilty of…restricting myself all day leading up to the big meal, only to then be SO hungry that I overeat and end up with a stomachache.  If you’re genuinely not hungry before you go, then don’t worry about it, but if you’re the type that skips breakfast, lunch, and lives on hot tea and diet soda until you can have an all out binge-fest at that party, then how is that helping you stay in tune with your body?  I understand wanting to be hungry for all the yummy food, but treating these holidays and parties different from normal meals, leads us to overeat and be uncomfortable.  Instead of skipping breakfast, have one that is full of protein and veggies.  It’ll flood your body with vitamins and nutrients, satisfy you, and keep you full until your social event.  That way, when you arrive at the party or Thanksgiving meal, you’re the right amount of hungry and can more easily listen to your fullness cues (instead of focusing on just curbing the ravenous hunger you have by skipping breakfast).


5. Focus on the social aspect

The final tip I have for respecting and listening to your body throughout the holidays, is to focus on what really matters.  This is a time to see people you don’t see very often, and enjoy their company, and catch up on their lives.  Focus on building those relationships and have the events be around that, instead of around food.  Food is a great way to bring people together, but let it not be the main focus of the event.  For Thanksgiving this week, enjoy the food provided, but FOCUS on the people you’re eating it with.  Focus on the time spent with them and what they’re doing in their lives.  Share your life with them.  Taking the focus off of food and putting it on what’s important will help you enjoy Thanksgiving, and end the day feeling comfortably full physically and emotionally.


Hope these help and I hope you all have a FANTASTIC Thanksgiving!


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