Why You Should Identify the Reasons You Leave Thanksgiving Too Full

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Understanding yourself and honoring that understanding will yield long term success. Ignoring who you are and why you make the choices you do will make effective change extremely difficult.

If we don’t understand WHY we do something that hurts us or goes against our goals, we may have an incredibly difficult - if not impossible - time overcoming the situation at hand.

What drives us? Why do we make the decisions we do? 

This delves a bit into the psychology of eating, which is a whole topic on its own, but regardless highly intertwined with nutrition itself. They overlap undoubtedly throughout the process of ANY health journey! Sometimes so much so that I may suggest my client not only work with me, but also with a therapist, social worker, or psychologist while we work on their nutrition (Which is an incredible positive!).

This blog comes up around Thanksgiving because it is a notorious holiday associated with fullness. However, the techniques in this blog can be applied all year round. If this is something that is challenging you throughout the year, I highly suggest you work with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to help you build healthy skills in ALL food related situations.

The first step is to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Can I have an incredibly joyous, delicious and also indulgent Thanksgiving, without physically eating so much that the fullness is overwhelming?

  2. Do I deserve to have an enjoyable time with friends or family at events involving food?

  3. The last question involves you envisioning your own eating habits at an event like Thanksgiving: Would you feed a small child in the manner in which you feed yourself on Thanksgiving?

Understanding your own answers to these questions are critical to behavior change. Our food journey isn’t ALL willpower, as many people make it seem. Regarding the questions above:

1. YES, you can have fun, enjoy delicious food, and even indulge at Thanksgiving and other events without eating so much it hurts.

If in your mind you answered NO, then I suggest you grab a piece of paper and pen and start to dig deeper. Write down the reasons Why you believe you can’t have all of these things at one time. Whatever the reasons you write down, you can then address them with behavioral changes that will last. For example, maybe you wrote down that you have an all-or-nothing personality?

That’s fine, but how can you still enjoy foods without throwing your hands in the air every time you have something that wasn’t “planned”? The first step is understanding why you make a choice, and the second is writing down ways to address that issue. If you need additional help, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can support you with these changes.

2. YES, you deserve to have an enjoyable time at events involving food!

You might know this was the answer I would give you, but perhaps you don’t believe it. If you didn’t know you deserve this, OR you knew this was the correct answer but truly don’t believe you are capable or deserving… Then this question also deserves further attention.

Why don’t you deserve to enjoy? Why does food equal punishment or failure? GRAB THAT PEN AND PAPER!

  • And LAST but certainly not least…

3. If you are eating to the point of discomfort at any gathering, then we should consider looking at the WAY in which we are eating, and ask yourself the following question:

“Would I feed a child this way? Would I force a second or third portion of something on a child who feels full because the food tastes so delicious”?

The answer ideally should be NO. If it is not, then we need to take a closer look at how and why we feel this way.

If your answers don’t align with the ones above, it is 100% OKAY! There were times I would have answered NO to #1 and #2!

Question #3 is more of a thought-provoking question. #3 is asked to help you see that the way we feed ourselves should be kind and nourishing, not negative. Forcing food on ourselves is abusive, and we don’t deserve that just because we ate something that wasn’t planned, or we over indulged, or any reason. So what? We’re human!

None of these questions have right or wrong answers.

The goal of this blog is to help you think more about why you make the choices you do, then you can decide what your next steps should be. Maybe you can tackle your concerns by:

  • Writing down ways to turn the negative action around to a positive

  • Thinking of a more realistic approach to the foods that are triggers, or the foods that “push you over the edge”

  • Being realistic with yourself about what you want to enjoy at any given event, and being okay with those choices so you don’t beat yourself up

    • Example: Instead of telling yourself, “I am not having any dessert tonight,” which can be dangerous if you like desserts, and can lead to overeating… Try changing the thought process to, “I am going to enjoy a dessert tonight and if there is something that looks amazing, I am going to have a few bites of that too, if I want it.”

  • OR maybe after these exercises, deciding to call a dietitian or therapist might be the next best step for you.

Regardless of what you decide after reading this blog, remember to have compassion for yourself. Do your very best to treat yourself well and with care. It varies from person to person why we may overeat or over indulge. The first step is understanding YOUR reason why.

Healthfully, and with an incredible amount of gratitude during this Thanksgiving season,
Jaime