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Tips to Neutralize Thanksgiving Day

By Erin Gilbert (Laverty), RDN, CSO, LDN

Thanksgiving day is almost here! While we hope you are looking forward to a wonderful holiday, we acknowledge how hard Thanksgiving can be If you are in eating disorder recovery or working to heal your relationship with food. Here are some tips to reframe your Turkey Day into a more neutral or positive experience:

The day itself: It’s easy to get worried or caught up in the food aspect of Thanksgiving day. Afterall, for most people, a big turkey dinner is what comes to mind when we think about the holiday. If you are feeling stressed about this, it may be helpful to try to think about the other aspects of the day you look forward to– like spending time with loved ones, or even just having a day off work/school! This year can also be a great time to start a new, non food related, tradition. Here are some food neutral activities you could consider incorporating to your celebrations: -go to a Thanksgiving Day parade -play board games or start a new tradition like Bingo -go for a walk as a family -watch or play football -have a movie marathon -make arts & crafts with the little ones -volunteer

The meal itself:

Hopefully you are able to fill your day with other fun activities, but if you are having a traditional meal with family, it’s normal that this could still bring up some negative food thoughts. Instead of getting caught up in the diet culture narrative, here are some nutrition reminders to help neutralize the common foods you’ll see. If your brain is trying to tell you that Thanksgiving foods are “unhealthy” or “bad” remember…

Turkey is a great source of protein which helps us to build muscles & stay satisfied.

Mashed potatoes break down into glucose to give us energy & contain important nutrients like vitamin C (which protects our cells) & potassium (which supports our heart).

Sweet potatoes also provide energy, along with antioxidants like beta carotene which promotes eye health. When topped with butter, you also get a fat source which will add flavor & help you to absorb essential nutrients.

Green bean casserole is a yummy way to get your veggies in! The green beans contain vitamin K (for bone & blood health) along with other vitamins & minerals.

Cranberry sauce is another nutrient rich dish. Along with lots of micronutrients, it is also a great source of fiber which promotes heart, digestive & gastrointestinal health.

Pumpkin pie is not only delicious, but also a good source of iron, a mineral that helps carry oxygen throughout the body & keep energy levels up.

Remember, there are no such thing as “good” or “bad” foods. Foods may be nutritionally different, but all foods deserve to be enjoyed as part of an overall balanced diet!

Give thanks!

We hope these tips & nutrition tidbits have been helpful for you to make peace with what can be a challenging, food driven holiday. On this day of giving thanks, you may consider taking the opportunity to express gratitude towards your body & the hard work you have put into your recovery journey. While we may not always love the appearance of our bodies, remembering all that our bodies do for us can be a strong step towards building body respect.

Keep up the amazing work & have a great holiday!


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