Proud2Bme | Thanksgiving Survival Guide

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Thanksgiving Survival Guide

For those struggling with food, weight and body image issues, Thanksgiving can be super stressful. Here are our top three tips on how to survive the day with gratitude and hope.

1. Know That You’re Not Alone
It’s normal to feel anxious around the holidays, so give yourself a break if you’re less than excited about all the food, family, and festivities. Take it from others who have been there.

“When I was in the throes of binge eating disorder in my late teens and early twenties, Turkey Day was always time of incredible mixed emotion. Along with the excitement and fun of seeing family and eating some truly great food (Mmm, Mom's Dutch apple pie), came intense body image trouble and a fixation on trying to be ‘good’ this year.” –Sunny Sea Gold, author of Food: The Good Girl’s Drug

“When I was actively ill with the eating disorder, Thanksgiving was effectively a Day of Torture.  A holiday all about food and eating?  Count me out. I still don't exactly look forward to thanksgiving, but I don't dread it, either.” –Carrie Arnold, ED Bites

“Thanksgiving is about family and togetherness…but the food takes center stage. When I was in the height of my eating disorder I wanted to crawl under the table, pop in some earplugs and hide… I recall watching others enjoy their food, eyes lit up with excitement when the huge, glistening brown turkey finally landed on the table. As their mouths watered, mine dried up as I calculated the fat grams in my head.”—Mamavision


2. Just Say ‘No’ to Diet Talk
The holiday season could easily be renamed the diet season based on all the buzz about how we should be obsessing over not gaining weight, avoiding holiday treats, and doing penance if we "lose control" and overeat. Do your best to avoid those unhealthy and unhelpful conversations.

“Dieting is based on the misconception that food has a moral value. You probably have heard someone say something like, ‘I’ve been good all day. Now I’m going to be bad and eat a slice of pumpkin pie.’ But eating pie is not a ‘bad’ thing to do. Food does not have a moral value. Food is just food.”—Jenni Schaefer, singer, songwriter and author of Life Without ED

“For many people who are seeing family from out of town, there is anxiety about whether they’ll be seen as ‘too fat.’  [H]oliday articles about food and weight during this season just feed into that anxiety.  It’s a shame that the focus becomes on whether you’ll be thin enough to be acceptable, rather than on the pleasure of seeing your family. Of course, family celebrations can also be fraught with dynamics that create anxiety – sometimes focusing on weight is a way to avoid the ‘real’ issues. [M]agazine tips support the idea that if you can just lose weight, everything will be okay.  However, getting in touch with your true feelings and figuring out strategies to deal with family situations is much more helpful than diverting yourself with diet talk.”—Judith Matz and Ellen Frankel, authors of The Diet Survivor’s Handbook


3. Take Time for Yourself, and for Gratitude

If it all starts to feel like too much, take a breather, take your focus away from the food and remember what Thanksgiving is really about: being thankful.

“Visualize your happy place if overwhelmed. Take five minutes to yourself and close your eyes visualizing a safe place. Write a note to all family members saying why you are thankful for them. It helps keep your mind off of the food and on the meaning of the holiday.”
Voice in Recovery

"Honor your journey by eating the foods you want, listening to your body's cues, avoid engaging in 'fat talk,' and keeping your support systems close-at-hand. The food you eat and your size should not define you, your worth, or your ability to enjoy the holidays."—Chevese Turner, founder of the Binge Eating Disorder Association


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