Do you know what I might love most about this time of year? It’s not the pumpkin-flavored everythings or even the crisp, fall weather (which is partly due to the fact that it’s still 80 degrees and humid here in Florida). It’s the way people are so free about sharing what they’re grateful for. Every morning, as I scroll through my Facebook feed, I see dozens of people giving thanks for all kinds of things in their lives: a loving family, a steady job, or even things that challenge them, like an injury that forced them to slow down and smell the virtual roses.
But the holiday season also brings up a common theme that I cannot stand: the association of holiday goodies and food-related guilt. I’ll tell you right now, guilt has no place at my Thanksgiving table. Three different potato dishes? Yep. Two kinds of pie, and maybe some brownies too? Absolutely. Seconds on the jalapeno corn pudding? You bet. But guilt? It’s not welcome here.
You know what I’m talking about. There are the ubiquitous headlines: “Too Much Turkey? How to Burn off Every Single Calorie!” And there are the well-meaning, health-minded friends who, instead of discussing the delicious treats they’re looking forward to, are talking about how they know they’re going to “be bad” and eat “too much,” but it’s okay, because they’ll “make up for it” by being super strict about eating and exercise before and after.
Look, there’s a lot of emotion tied up in food, and there’s also a lot of emotion (at least for me) in a holiday like Thanksgiving. But at the end of the day, we get to choose how we view the food on our Thanksgiving table. We can see it as a naughty indulgence and feel bad about it, or we can see it as a delicious treat that we’ll thoroughly enjoy from start to finish. You can look at the same exact plate both ways, and if you ask me, it’s far more appetizing to see it as a friend than an enemy.
Does that mean I think you should throw your healthy habits to the curb? No, not exactly. But here’s what I do think:
- None of your favorite Thanksgiving foods should be off limits. You can look into opting for healthier versions of them, if you want, but if your aunt’s incredibly rich pecan pie is a dish you dream about, then make sure you have a slice.
- Mindful eating is key. Really savor that food. After all, it took someone — possibly you — hours to prepare this feast! The least you can do is take the time to see, smell, taste and enjoy every bite you take. Try this tip! It works for more than just chocolate.
- Shutting down the negative food talk will help. That goes for the self-talk and the talk among your friends. If you experience feelings of guilt, acknowledge that it’s there, and then remind yourself that there’s nothing to feel guilty about. Not a damn thing. And when your cousin starts saying, “Oh, I really shouldn’t have a piece of pie,” smile at her and say something like, “You know what? You absolutely should, and you should enjoy every bite. I’ll join you!”
Still having a hard time wrapping your head around the idea of ditching the guilt this Thanksgiving? Tell me what’s on your mind in the comments. Let’s talk it out so we can all have a Thanksgiving free from food guilt!—Kristen