Thanksgiving: Taking an Enjoyable and Mindful Approach
Updated: Nov 17
Written By: Rebecca Goodrich MS, RDN, LDN
Thanksgiving, as we know, is a national holiday that is celebrated once a year and is enjoyed with the presence of our family and friends. During this holiday we give thanks for all that we are grateful for while enjoying a delicious feast. Thanksgiving can be overwhelming to some, while others may have difficulties in one way or another. Whatever space that you may find yourself in, is completely okay and should not be judged. Some of the more popular Thanksgiving dishes that are frequently consumed are yams, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, pies, cornbread, and turkey of course! It can be quite easy to overindulge in our favorite foods during this time of the year. Because of this, we’ve created some tips on how to enjoy your holiday favorites while taking a mindful approach. Keep in mind that while this holiday may be stressful to some, this is can be a helpful guide when it comes to creating a mindful and enjoyable approach to your holiday experience.
Tuning into your hunger and fullness cues
I know, I know. EVERYTHING on the table is literally delicious. It’s easy to overindulge. But what happens when it becomes too much for your body? While I encourage you to enjoy your meal and the company of your friends and family, I also recommend that you take the time to assess how you are feeling during your meal. Tuning in to the texture, aroma, and taste of your food can help you become more mindful and connected with your meal. Understanding how your body is feeling by pausing during your meals can allow you to honor your hunger/fullness cues in a more constructive manner. Asking yourself whether you’re still hungry or if you’re getting to the point of feeling uncomfortably full is important when assessing those cues. Whatever communication you’re receiving from your body should be honored. Whatever holiday or day it may be, it’s important that you continue listening to your body.
Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast
Since Thanksgiving involves a big feast, one can only think that it would make sense to not eat anything until dinner. While in theory, you may think this will “save room for later,” it will actually prevent you from being connected with your meals while also causing other health concerns. Keep in mind that you want to consume small/frequent meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism going. Cooking takes a lot of energy and because of this, you most definitely want to keep yourself nourished!
Knowing that your Thanksgiving meal will be on the heavier side, shoot for more vegetables and fruits with your meals earlier in the day. Remember that it’s still encouraged for you to set the tone for the day and consume a well-balanced breakfast that includes good sources of fiber and protein. Skipping meals can often cause overeating later in the day while also promoting that mind-body disconnection that we want to avoid.
Save for later
While taking a mindful and intuitive approach to enjoying your meals, remember that you do not need to rush and finish everything on your plate. Chew your food, pause, enjoy, and resume if you still feel hungry. Respect the fact that if you are full, it’s okay to stop eating. Understanding your satisfaction level allows you to gain control of what serves and what doesn’t serve you. Incorporating a more mindful approach to your meals can help prevent feelings of overwhelmingness while emphasizing the importance of trusting your intuition.
Thanksgiving dishes tend to be on the heavier side as mentioned previously, which is also important to note when it comes to responding to those cues. If you have finished your Thanksgiving meal and feel satisfied, great! Honor that feeling! Whatever food is left on your plate can be wrapped up and saved for another day. Thanksgiving leftovers are just as yummy.
Don't be hard on yourself
It’s okay if we indulge in our favorite foods and sweets. This isn’t a time to judge, but rather a day that should be enjoyed with your family and friends while showing gratitude. It’s suggested to listen to your inner self and honor your cues so that you leave space to create a more mindful connection with your body.
Remember that while Thanksgiving involves a variety of dishes, they can be both enjoyed on the actual holiday and can be used for leftovers. Incorporating a mindful approach with respect to consuming a bigger meal than usual (such as Thanksgiving), try to keep these tips in mind in order to prevent feeling uncomfortable. Respecting your cues, enjoying the experience, chewing your food slowly, and honoring your body can all create a more healthy and mindful experience for you.