For many of us, Thanksgiving can be a very stressful holiday. For most Americans, they jump into this holiday with the thoughts of eating as much turkey, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and stuffing that they can literally stuff into their bodies. And then of course, it must be topped off with a few servings of pumpkin pie in order to make it complete. Many people starve for the whole day to be sure they’ll be able to stuff all this food in all at once. Others start their morning off with a hearty plate-full of pumpkin pancakes, just to set the tone for the day.
I don’t know about you, but that whole scenario gives me anxiety. Really. The thought of having to partake in such a gluttonous affair is enough to make me go crazy. For someone who restricted foods for such a long time, I came to dislike the Thanksgiving holiday. I had no desire to be around such a large amount of food and especially be forced to eat in front of other people! That was absolutely out of the question.
For someone who is battling an eating disorder, Thanksgiving can be extremely difficult. For an anorexic, the idea of having to partake of a normal sized meal in front of all these relatives can be very anxiety-ridden. And for someone who suffers bulimia, the urge to binge & purge may be very strong on a day where such a large amount of food is involved. Thanksgiving could be just as hard for someone who struggles with dieting and doesn’t want to blow their diet on a slice of pie, even though they can pretty much taste the cinnamon-laden apples on their tongue. It can be torture for someone in any level of food issue.
I want to help you out. I’ve come up with a few tips and would like to provide you with a Mini-Survival Guide.
Whether this is someone who is going to be at the same dinner as you or not, you need to have someone you can go to. Someone you can talk to beforehand, in order to let them know how your feeling. What’s going on in your head? Why are you freaking out about Thanksgiving? What scares you the most? What do you want from this support person? Ask this person if it’s ok if you can call them throughout the day if you run into a hard time. You need to trust that this person will be there for you and will be able to help you through the day.
Make a Plan
That’s right. You need a Thanksgiving Day Plan. The last thing you want to do is just wing it, hoping that you don’t have a major breakdown. You are going to think about what foods you truly want to eat. How much you would like to eat. How you want to feel after you’re finished eating. Go in with a game plan. If you really want to try those appetizers, go for it. But let’s just plan it out and make sure that’s what you really want.
Don’t Starve Yourself!
How many Thanksgiving mornings have you just decided not to eat because you’re going to be eating so much later on in the day? I know I’ve done it. Definitely more than once. This is not a good idea. The hungrier you are when you get to dinner-time, the more you are going to eat impulsively and probably stray from the plan you had made for yourself. Just eat a normal breakfast like every other day. If dinner isn’t until mid-afternoon or evening, eat a normal lunch as well. Treat this like a normal day. Chances are high that you will probably treat your Thanksgiving meal similar to a dinner if you take this stance.
Yup, you’ve got to do it. If you start to feel overwhelmed, just take a step back from things, take a deep breath and count slowly to ten. Clear your mind and just breathe. Maybe even step outside for a minute. You will probably find that you can handle the situation better once you’ve focused on your breathing and have cleared your head a bit.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Seriously, this is just one day. If you happen to steer away from your plan a little bit, it’s ok. Try not to be so hard on yourself. Thanksgiving truly is a difficult food-oriented holiday, even for people who don’t have food issues or other eating disorders. You are not alone in this. Just try your best to enjoy yourself and your company and not be to hard if you slip up a bit.
What It’s Really About
Above all, let’s remember this very important note. Thanksgiving shouldn’t be all about the food. Sure, there is going to be some delicious grub on the spread that day. But the time spent with your friends and family should come first. A day spent reflecting on all the things that we are thankful for. A day to enjoy each other’s presence. Telling stories, playing games, cooking a meal together in the kitchen, reminiscing with your siblings. That’s what this day is all about.
Try to focus on that. Try not to think too deeply about what you are or aren’t eating. Don’t worry about what Aunt Mable thinks about what’s on your own plate. Most people are too consumed in their own lives that they don’t realize if you’ve hardly touched anything on your plate.
I hope you are able to enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday. I am grateful for each and every one of you.
Be grateful for your life and for all the blessings that you have been given. Cherish it and Enjoy it.