The holidays can be a stressful time. There is always so much to do in preparation, that we are often left with what feels like very little time to actually hit pause and enjoy it. Thanksgiving is about spending time with loved ones, sharing a meal, and being thankful for the things in your life. One of the harmful messages that makes an appearance this time of year, that takes us away from truly enjoying this time, is the notion that you have to earn what you eat. This twisted notion implies that you have to workout to earn the food you eat or workout afterwards as punishment for “overeating”.
As a society we have developed harmful messaging around the holidays about the food that is meant to be a source of joy and bring people together around a table. At the beginning of November the rhetoric of assigning moral value to food, sharing ways to “lighten” up your Thanksgiving, and various other messages such as “Thighs before pies” or “Burn before the bird” begin to flood our social media channels. The messaging here is both pervasive and harmful.
At its core, food is fuel and there is no such thing as “good” or “bad” food. There is an even stronger notion that holiday foods—such as stuffing and pumpkin pie—are “bad,” and indulging in them is bad behavior. All food contains nutrients and in the end eating foods that are nutrient dense will provide you with a more balanced diet but one day of not doing so will not throw off that balance.
Now I am not saying not to exercise! Trust me, I am all for a Turkey Trot or HIIT class at Fitness Unlimited before a day spent with family and friends. I personally love having the chance to sweat and have some me time. But, this year, I ask you to work to change your mentality around it all. Move your body because it’ll make you feel great to exercise that day, not to “burn off” your meal.
When you are enjoying a slice of pie or a second cookie on Thanksgiving, be present with those around you and with yourself. Listen to your body’s cues about when its full but quiet the shame and negative thoughts because they do not deserve a place at the table.