You vs. Thanksgiving Food Coma and Guilt: How to Come out on Top
Thanksgiving used to be my arch-nemesis. It didn’t matter how healthy I was eating or how much I was working out in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving; it completely threw me off the wagon every. single. time.
During these years, I was also taking an extreme all-or-nothing approach toward health. When I was in an “all” phase, I would put a ton of restrictions on what I allowed myself to eat, leading to feelings of deprivation. After weeks or months of restricting myself from eating even a bite of “bad” food, seeing the beautiful spread of Thanksgiving food would turn me into a straight savage and I would lose control.
I would stuff myself way beyond full, until I was in pain, and then proceed to eat more. I remember multiple years of anxiously waiting for everyone to go to bed so I could break into the leftovers and do it all over again, just a few hours later. I would toss and turn in bed all night, unable to sleep because I was in so much physical (and emotional) pain.
The day after Thanksgiving I would feel like a complete failure. I would berate myself in the mirror, feeling like all of my progress was lost. I genuinely thought one day of overindulging erased weeks or months of work. In the weeks that followed Thanksgiving, I would feel so defeated that I would enter the “nothing” phase in my all-or-nothing approach, only eating fast/processed food and not exercising at all.
I don’t want anyone else to have to go through this, so I’ve put together eight tips to help you overcome a Thanksgiving food coma and the guilt that follows!
1. It’s only one day.
Thanksgiving is only ONE day out of the entire year. I now understand that health is a lifelong journey, so one day will have zero impact on your overall progress. Try to stay focused on the long-term vision and allow yourself to indulge guilt-free. Plus, studies have shown that occasionally overindulging actually leads to greater results in your fitness training and overall health.
2. Show yourself compassion.
You are only human, and Thanksgiving food is freaking yummy! Take all that pressure off of yourself, girl; you deserve this. Life is hard, and you’re doing your best. Eat that piece of pie, eat those mashed potatoes, and afterwards tell yourself “I love you.”
3. Shift your focus.
What’s more important: food, which is an inanimate object, or the people who have been there for you when times were tough, the people who love and care about you? I say the people. Try to shift your focus from the amazing food to the amazing family and friends you’re getting to spend time with.
4. Eat Mindfully.
Hearing the words “dinner is ready” is like music to the ears. However, getting too excited can lead to us shoveling food into our mouths, one fork-full after the other, without even chewing or tasting. When you don’t chew your food, you are missing out on all the flavor and enjoyment. Not to mention it messes with digestion. Try to shift your excitement for the food into appreciation for the food. Slow it down, chew each bite fully, and taste all the different flavors. Put your fork down between bites and engage in conversation with your peeps. I promise you will enjoy the food so much more and be less likely to overeat.
5. Eat breakfast.
Eating breakfast in the morning before your Thanksgiving meal can help you avoid feeling starving and desperate once the meal is ready. This desperation can lead to major overeating. Even just a small breakfast will help control your hunger so you don’t reach that starving point.
6. Stick with one plate.
Our eyes are waaay bigger than our stomachs, and during that second plate you will most likely be putting the food into your mouth simply because it’s there, not because you are truly enjoying it.
7. Move yo’ body.
I’m not one of those people who gets up on Thanksgiving morning and runs a 5K (respect for those of you who do), because let’s be real, I’m still in my 20s, and the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest nights of the year to hit the bars and have a half exciting, half awkward high school reunion. However, I will make sure to go for at least a walk either before or after dinner. Getting in some sort of movement will burn calories and make you feel proud of yourself for exercising on a holiday, which will help decrease any feelings of guilt that may try to creep in. A couple other ways to get active are to help with the cooking or cleaning up.
8. Pull out the big guns: wear jeans. *gasp*
Few things are more effective at keeping you from overeating than wearing a tight pair of jeans!
I hope these eight tips help you have an enjoyable, guilt-free Thanksgiving, because that’s what you deserve.