When you think of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other festivities revolving around food, how often do words like stress and anxiety come to mind? And how often does hold-your-breath-and-hope-for-the-best become your MO when it comes to staying on the food wagon?
That used to be me, and this was why…
I wanted to enjoy all the delicious food, but didn’t know if I’d be able to have ‘just one’.
I was surrounded by friends and family, yet felt isolated because I was ‘the only one’ struggling with food (isn’t that ironic? 🙂 )
I knew in my gut (no pun intended) that I was going to end up eating more than I wanted to, and so I gave up hope of maintaining any control on the day, and was already planning my diet and exercise regime for the day after.
I’ve been there. It sucks. Not fun. Not free.
It took me many Thanksgivings and Christmases to figure it out and practice a different way. What I’m about to share are 8 strategies you can adopt to freely enjoy Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season. Have your cake, and enjoy it!
- Let Go of Expectations. Instead of having a picture of what a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ day looks like for you, be open to it going however it goes. Measure the ‘success’ of the day on how much love and grace you give yourself vs how much you do or don’t eat.
- Start the day with Gratitude. It is Thanksgiving after all, so lean into the original purpose of the day, (and the entire holiday season). Embrace the thought that, you are enough as you are, imperfections and all. You are not lacking. You are not broken. Be grateful for all that you are and all that you have.
- Change your Thoughts. Holidays, parties, and often the entire month of December, are often thought of as ‘cheat’ days or even months. This line of thinking gives false permission to ‘fall off the food wagon’ for that period of time (in my experience you still feel guilty on a cheat day). What if instead of a ‘cheat day’, tomorrow (and other holiday gatherings) were ‘free days’. A day where you are free to be you. A day to act freely towards food. Free to choose nourishing or not so nourishing foods. Free to enjoy and celebrate… yourself, others, food, and life.
- Ask yourself, ‘Who would I be…’ Who would you be if you didn’t think of it as a ‘cheat day’? Who would you be if it was a ‘free day’, or even better, a normal day like every other, where you are living freely to love food and love life. Where you are making choices without guilt. Where you are living present in the moment. How would that person think, feel, act?
- Prepare. Once you have an idea of who you would be, living freely with food and in life, then prepare to act as that person. How quickly or slowly does this person eat? What does she fill her plate with? How many desserts does she eat? Answer: How many would the ‘free’ person have? (There is no right or wrong here. If you picture the free you, having 3 desserts, then do what that person would do. In my experience, when I have known deep down that it’s ok to have 3 desserts, but I limited myself to only 1, I ended up dissatisfied, and inevitably I snuck more food later.)
- Be Comfortable. Instead of trying to look a certain way and live up to others’ standards, wear what you want to wear, be who you want to be. It’s hard work trying to keep up appearances, and adds unnecessary stress to the day. Sometimes being true to ourselves starts with how our bodies feel. So let your body feel at home in what you’re wearing. Maybe that means saving the skinny jeans for another night and wearing yoga pants. Maybe that means putting on a dress and heels. Wear whatever is going to make you feel comfortable with yourself, at home, and beautiful.
- Think about Others. When we start to feel pressure, it’s usually because we’re thinking about ourselves. Try thinking about others instead. How can you make somebody else’s day? How can you show them they’re the awesomest person in the room? How can you make someone smile, laugh, feel loved? Usually we feel our best when we feel connected to others. Don’t wait for others to offer you connection. Go create it for yourself.
- Keep Grace close. If during the day you start to feel like you’re slipping into old habits, and starting to get down on yourself, check in with Grace. Grace says, ‘It’s OK. I love you anyway.’ Remember that you’ve let go of expectations, and the day is being measured only by love and grace. Invite both to the party and hang out with them often.
Here’s something else… doing all of the above, 100% of the time, takes practice. It took me years, so an expectation you might want to let go of, is that reading this once will act as a magic wand. If it does, awesome (and definitely let me know!) What I see most often though, is that true transformation occurs over time.
Time + Committed Efforts = Change
So embrace the fact that every day you make a committed effort to do things differently, you are on your way towards freedom. I’m cheering for you!!
Have an amazing Thanksgiving (or November 27th if you’re not in the US)!! I’d love to hear how tomorrow and other festive events go for you, so leave a comment below!
Lots of Love!