Updated: May 19
It’s a wonderful time of year! So many celebrations, friends and family get togethers, shared meals, and fall weather. However, the holiday season can also introduce stress and anxiety for those trying to make good choices for their health. Just as there is no one right diet for everyone or magic pill to solve all of your health problems, there is no one piece of advice I can give that will serve a whole audience. That being said, here is some encouragement to guide you through this season with less stress and allow you to be present in every moment.
If you are cooking Thanksgiving dinner or contributing in some way, be intentional with what you purchase. As your budget allows, choose local and organic ingredients, and minimize refined sugar and gluten when preparing your dishes. Enjoy the classic Thanksgiving recipes you love, but use quality ingredients- it makes a considerable difference.
My mom and I prepare Thanksgiving, so I happily enjoy all of the food knowing that it’s well sourced. I don’t hold back one bit when I eat Thanksgiving dinner, and I am usually left feeling way more full than usual. And you know what? I don’t care if I eat too much. It’s one meal. It doesn’t mean I am less healthy, and I will not continue to eat like that in the days to come. I know that I can and will return to “regular” eating the next day.
However, I know that this method (or lack thereof) won’t work for everyone, especially if mindful eating is a challenge for you! Many thrive with a bit more structure to guide them through days when there are dozens of food options, and you may feel out of control.
Melissa Urban is one of my favorite leaders in the realm of food freedom and learning how to set boundaries for yourself. Boundaries do not mean restrictive eating or setting yourself up for a cycle of binging and purging. Boundaries mean defining what foods you truly want and how much food is too much before you feel full. Boundaries allow you to stay in control but remain relaxed and present.
One of the things Melissa addresses in Food Freedom Forever, is deciding what foods are worth it, even if they may not be the healthiest option. This food might induce brain fog, increase your sugar cravings or make you sleepy. But sometimes, you just want to enjoy the food regardless of the consequences! Learn to differentiate between foods you really want and foods that are simply available or that you eat out of habit. For example, stuffing (aka dressing) is available at most Thanksgiving meals. You may typically eat it because it feels like a Thanksgiving staple, but if you are only “so-so” on the taste or texture, why bother? Skip the stuffing if it’s not worth it for you and go for the pie if that’s what you love!
If it’s a challenge for you to stop eating sweet potato casserole when you’ve had enough, then start off by eating foods like turkey and vegetables. When you consume protein, fiber, and greens, your blood sugar will remain balanced, and you are more inclined to make conscious food decisions. If you load up on sweet potato casserole, rolls, and mashed potatoes, your blood sugar is going to spike drastically, then crash. When your blood sugar is unstable, you are more likely to continue eating foods that will keep your blood sugar elevated (sugary casserole, processed carbohydrates, etc.)
This being said, there’s no reason to completely avoid your favorite Thanksgiving sides. I shared two of my favorite dishes, green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole that are full of whole food ingredients. These dishes aren’t made with canned soup or loaded with refined sugar, but I promise you, they taste as good as what you remember.
Perhaps the one thing I want you to focus on is that Thanksgiving (or whatever special gathering is next) should be centered around time with those you love. Yes, the food that you put in your body is important, but your mindset about that food may be even more crucial. Being hyper focused on food takes away from quality time with those around you. Try to relax and enjoy time with loved ones! Lastly, have some grace with yourself; habits and patterns don’t typically change overnight! If you leave Thanksgiving meal feeling like you’ve overdone it, keep moving forward and take it day by day. If you need help with anything discussed in this article, I would be more than happy to provide counsel.
For recipes, tips, and holistic nutrition information, follow along on Instagram @Mirabella Holistic Health!