Navigating your Thanksgiving Meal
Thanksgiving is a holiday where we practice gratitude. It is also a holiday centered around food. If you are in any sort of recovery including recovery from an eating disorder, disordered eating or diet culture, it can be difficult to navigate a day where food and/or body image are likely in the forefront of conversation.
Family may be present on the holiday that we don’t see on a regular basis, which can make speaking up about how comments impact you even more difficult. Comments centered in diet culture are likely without ill intent, but they can still be hurtful, but it can be difficult to set boundaries with people especially if they are not coming from a hurtful place. It is also important that others understand when comments are making people uncomfortable, because even if they aren’t trying to upset you, it doesn't mean there isn't a negative impact.
In order to make the day more enjoyable for yourself and all, here are some tips to help guide the Thanksgiving meal in the right direction.
Some topics may be within your boundaries to discuss further, while others may require setting a firm boundary, saying no and changing the conversation. It can be helpful to establish boundaries on certain topics ahead of time to prepare responses and actions.
Have realistic expectations
It is possible that the Thanksgiving meal will be without diet culture and body comments, and while that would be amazing, it is unlikely. It can be helpful to be prepared to get ahead of the conversation or successfully redirect it.
Start, Stop or Redirect Conversation
In order to prepare, think of conversation starters and ways to redirect conversation. This can be done by thinking about common interests among the group or looking up some fun conversation starters online. Brainstorming possible comments that could be made by family members and thinking of ways to redirect will be helpful if the conversation starts going in the wrong direction.
Find a support person
Tell someone you trust about your worries and fears for the day and come up with a plan for them to help stop and redirect any conversation you do not wish to engage with.
Take a break
It is perfectly okay if you need to step away at any point during the day. You could let people know ahead of time or simply excuse yourself to go lie down or go for a walk. Taking time for yourself is always an acceptable way to negate the impact of diet culture comments or negative body talk.
Thanksgiving dinner is just another meal
If you are in recovery from diet culture or disordered eating, it may be helpful to remember that there is no need to restrict, binge or “earn” or “make-up” for the food you eat, on Thanksgiving or any other day!
Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, these tips can be great to have in your toolbox, for any holiday, gathering or social situation. Diet culture is all around us, and people will likely make statements and comments that don’t align with language used in recovery. Nourished Lifestyles wishes you a wonderful holiday, and we hope you will use the tips above to navigate your Thanksgiving meal, and enjoy it too! Remember, Thanksgiving is just another meal!
If you are interested in more applicable tips to navigating diet culture and body image discussions, consider speaking with a registered dietitian.