Thanksgiving is the one day of the year that everyone is given a free pass to eat until they’re uncomfortable
But for those of us with a binge eating issue (disorder), it’s not that simple.
Let me set the scene for you:
You’re already plotting what, when and where to eat. You’re calculating what will be left over in the fridge, so when you’re alone and no one can see you, you eat in peace (well, sort of). All of this because you’re never going to let anyone see you binge at the dinner table.
Many times the “binger” is the host, the preparer of the feast. She takes great pride in serving others and noting what gets eaten and what doesn’t. Then, as hard as you try not to, urges overtake you and you make your way down to the fridge and binge to the point of physical discomfort and shame. You try to rearrange the foods in the fridge, so it doesn’t look like anyone was in there.You feel guilty. And nervous. It’s all too much.
As you probably know by now, food is just a symptom of our problem.
The real problem is how we deal with our emotions. What better, I mean worse, time for our emotions to be raw than around our family with lots of alcohol flowing and basically unlimited access to sweets and other foods of addiction?
Combine that with all the emotions around family, all the resentments, all the bottled up anger and strangely all the unexpressed love and you have a recipe for a nuclear explosion.
What I’d like to do is get you through this time of the year so that you’re in a good place in the days and weeks that follow.
So, where do we start?
Follow these 7 rules and you’ll be well on your way to avoiding binge eating on Thanksgiving.
While it is hard to accurately predict how much food we will need for a feast such as Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners – getting more trigger foods like pies and sweets is just asking for trouble. Concentrate on the main meal. Find the best turkey, veggies and salads. Focus on them. The last thing you need is an excess of breads, stuffing and deserts around.
- Prepare early.
In the days and weeks leading up to the holidays, reduce or eliminate flour, sugar and highly processed fats and oils from your diet. Be steady going in. If you’ve eliminated or reduced your trigger foods from your diet up front, you’ll have less or even no cravings on the big day(s). If you’re early in your recovery journey, even a few months, your first holidays are going to be challenging regardless – be prepared.
Choose someone you have talked to before and ask them to expect your call. Hold each other accountable. That gives you security so you can’t wimp out and say “I can’t call them – it’s Thanksgiving.”
Have someone you can call and talk about the family “dynamics” (and by “dynamics,” we mean “insanity” sometimes).
- Be kind to yourself.
If you slip, you slip. Call your support system as soon as possible, but try to do it before you slip. I personally believe all slips are planned in advance. In this holiday “everything is about the food” scenario you’ll be able to see it clear as day. If you start calculating how much cherry pie will be left “for later,” make a call or take a walk. Anything to clear your head.
Have plenty of foil and tupperware on hand to pack up all your trigger foods and send them home with your guests. You get them out of sight and they have more to eat later. Win-win.
- Celebrate your win in a healthy way.
If you succeed in preparing or eating a healthy Thanksgiving meal, with no trigger foods, don’t celebrate with a piece of pie. Celebrate with a small gift to yourself on Black Friday. The assortment of food available at a traditional U.S. Thanksgiving dinner gives us a lot of good choices, usually.
Of course, we have to take into account vegetables with added sugar, gravies made with flour, etc., but lots of salads and veggies that you know were prepared in a healthy manner and the turkey is plenty for a satisfying meal.
PS for you hosts: Some turkeys are injected with sugar water – read the labels.
- Don’t try to make the day “perfect.”
Watch your expectations and the attempts we’ve all fallen into to “make this the best Thanksgiving ever..”
Everyone wants to have a perfect holiday for their kids and family. It is not possible. And as a result we over spend, overeat and over drink when it doesn’t end up “perfect.”
It is possible to enjoy your family and all the baggage they come with and eat a healthy satisfying meal. It may just take a little extra thought and support.
You can do it. We know you can.
Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.