My social media feed has been full of articles discussing tips and strategies on how to survive the upcoming cocktail parties and holiday feasts. I clicked through and read a few articles, but the more I started reading, the more unsettled and uneasy I felt. Why do we need to “survive” the holidays? Why do we need to “survive” food? Survive a bear attack? Yes, absolutely! But the holidays? Food?
Food is to be celebrated. Food is to be enjoyed. Food is NOT the enemy. If we approach the Thanksgiving table as if food is the enemy, those articles are right, we won’t survive it. But if we approach the Thanksgiving table with gratitude and joy in our hearts, we are much more likely to not only eat mindfully, but ENJOY all the delicious foods without judgmental thoughts about ourselves.
I like to look at life through an evolutionary lens to see where we may have lost our way. Consider this. The first Thanksgiving between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans was a celebration of gratitude for survival and good health. The infamous Squanto not only taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, fish and forge for indigenous plants, but he saved the English settlers from malnutrition and illness. The Thanksgiving table is not something we need to survive. The Thanksgiving table is the place where we come together to celebrate family, food and good health. Thanksgiving is the day we humbly reflect upon the abundance that saturates our lives and hearts.
So with that being said, I am not going to belittle the spirit of Thanksgiving by providing tips and strategies like: eat your dinner on a salad plate or fill your plate with salad and eat only thank you bites of the rich foods you have longed for all year. That is NOT embracing the spirit of Thanksgiving—celebrating food, abundance and good fortune.
Instead… this morning as you are preparing your Thanksgiving feast, let yourself fill up with immense gratitude. Gratitude is soul nourishing and a nourished soul leads to a nourished body. (Click here for the research on gratitude.)
If you really need a few strategies before sitting down to the Thanksgiving table, here are strategies… NourishYourLife.org style.
Holiday Strategies for Eating Mindfully and Celebrating Food
Enjoy the special foods you have waited all year to enjoy
Often times the foods that are most special to us, the foods that make Thanksgiving, well… Thanksgiving! are also the processed foods my family doesn’t eat regularly. You might be surprised to find that on a nutritionists’ Thanksgiving table this afternoon, we will enjoy the Kraft Watergate Salad- ie, the green fluffy stuff! This is not my favorite. Ick!
BUT, my husband and step-son LOVE this stuff and even as I was making it yesterday, completely bewildered how this “salad” was even concocted (seriously, non-dairy whipped topping, pistachio pudding powder and pineapple?!?!?!), I made it knowing it would bring a smile to their faces. You see my husband was an only child and would take the train to his grandmother’s every year alone for Thanksgiving. Oh how times have changed, right?! And this was one of his favorite Thanksgiving dishes that his grandmother would always make him. Having this “salad” on our table, makes Thanksgiving FEEL like Thanksgiving.
So… this year enjoy… REALLY enjoy some of those once a year processed foods that make the Thanksgiving table complete. NO judgement. NO punishing thoughts. NO “bad” food versus “good” food”. NO inner bartering. Just enjoy the foods for the joy they bring.
say a blessing
First let me say, while my family practices Christianity, you do NOT have to be religious to say a blessing. I am simply referring to a display of gratitude for the Thanksgiving feast before you! When we remind ourselves of the blessings before us, we are more likely to eat mindfully and thoughtfully.
I know… I know! Eat Mindfully at Thanksgiving?!?! Yes, it’s absolutely possible!! Fill your plate with all of the goodness on the Thanksgiving table. If you are like my family, there are so many dishes that I can literally get a tablespoon of each, and my plate is loaded with goodness! While eating mindfully does require you to eat with some control and within limits, (when you eat mindfully, you eat until you are no longer hungry, not full), the focus is actually on the food! See you can get on board with this! Focus on the food. Focus on each bite. The tastes, the textures, the nuances. Eat mindfully by allowing yourself the joy of the food in front of you. And when you are joyfully eating and celebrating food and family alike, you will feel that sensation that fills your body, providing that gentle nudge that says, you have been filled. You are complete. No more food is needed.
Don’t forget to EAT
What? Who forgets to eat on Thanksgiving? This is a reminder for all of the cooks out there. Do NOT forget breakfast and/or lunch depending on when you are serving your Thanksgiving feast. Cooking requires energy! And you don’t want to be completely exhausted and depleted by the time you actually sit down to eat. When we are completely famished, we eat hurriedly and often too much. Eat regular meals before your Thanksgiving feast so that when you sit at the table, you can enjoy the foods mindfully and with great celebration!
HAVE A WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING!!!!!
Always with you, Sarah
Comment below: Let me know how eating mindfully worked for you today! I would love to hear of your successes and challenges. Have a blessed day!!