Remember, Thanksgiving is just one meal, on one day.

Here in the USA, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the unofficial “feasting” season.

Whether Aunt Martha talks about how “bad” she is for overeating or Cousin Jack comments on weight, this is a challenging time. It is most challenging for people who are letting go of diets or recovering from an eating disorder.

We’ve put together a list of 8 Strategies for Dealing with Thanksgiving (and other Holiday Meals!) that will help you through this and other feasting seasons!

Here are eight strategies we share with our clients to help deal with the start of the holiday season when you’re recovering from dieting, disordered eating, or an eating disorder.

  1. Try and eat regular meals and snacks.
    Please remind yourself that Thanksgiving is just one day, like any other! If you approach the meal over-hungry, all bets are off, whether that means eating too little or too much! It is essential to avoid restricting your food before the meal or starving yourself the day after Thanksgiving.
  2. Consider approaching exercise as a “joyful” movement.
    Find movement that your body likes to do! Rest is also an option! No need to overexercise in anticipation of the meal or pay penance the day after.
  3. Strategize the holiday with your team or family members.
    If you are following a meal plan, consider discussing how to manage this with your therapist or weight-inclusive dietitian. Meal plans can provide an extra layer of safety if you feel worried about food.
  4. Have at least one person you trust to help if you need support. ​
    Whether you feel insecure about under or over-eating or handling triggering comments, enlisting a trusted friend or family member can help alleviate anxiety. Consider having a code word, or even use your cell phone if necessary.
holiday meals
  1. Come prepared with ideas to respond to diet or weight discussions.
    While we can’t control what other people talk about or say directly to us, we can control how we handle a situation. For example: “I only talk about food and body weight with my doctor!” Or “Our bodies are the least interesting things about us! How’s that new puppy?”
  2. Distract yourself; it’s okay!
    If you feel uncomfortable, breathe deeply to calm yourself or even walk away from the situation if necessary.
  3. Remember the importance of gratitude.
    Consider what (or who) you feel grateful for this year. Can you think of these holidays (and the special foods associated with them) as traditions we share with our loved ones?
  4. Work on taking care of your needs with self-compassion.
    Try as much as possible to get adequate rest and unfollow social media accounts about dieting or negative body image. Remind yourself that all foods fit; There are no good or bad foods. Eating an extra serving of pumpkin pie or stuffing is not morally equivalent to robbing a bank, though diet culture would make us think this is true!

We hope you can use these strategies to help you enjoy Thanksgiving this week – or pull them out and use them for any of the holiday times when food, family and friends gather!

Our team got together last year and shared some of our best advice on making peace with food, family, and your body too. You can check out all the tips for our team in this video.

If you or someone you know needs some added support during these trying times, please reach out. If one of our team members is not the right fit for you, we have a large network of clinicians and therapists who can help!

Book a time to talk with me and we can determine what help you need and the best way to get that help.

You can stop dieting and restricting and make peace with food, start with this free Intuitive Eating Guide and learn how you can change everything when it comes to food and body image.