Once upon a time, I used to dread the holiday's because I didn't know how to contain myself. I would cave under the aroma of all delicious goods: vegan 'turkey' (I used to love the real stuff), gravy, mashed potatoes, baked sweet potato, pickles & olives, stuffing, cranberry sauce, tons of veggies, and everything in between. I would even sneak the desserts after the feast because I was ashamed of how much I ate and didn't want anyone to think less of me. First of all, I've come to realize no one is going to look down on you when this Holiday is all about the food. Honestly, they're probably thinking the same thing you are. Secondly, you can get through the feast without overdoing it, and I'm going to show you how.
#1, Don't Restrict Yourself
My first tip is not to restrict yourself during the feast. I repeat, do NOT limit yourself in any way. Restricting yourself is only going to turn on that 5-year-old rebel switch in your mind, and you will definitely binge till your heart is contempt and your belly too painful to move. Did you know binge eating is a habit adopted by young children as a control mechanism? As kids, the only thing we can control is eating. So your BED might have roots deeper than you realize.
#2, Eat Clean Before and After
My second tip for you is not to avoid food before or after. Not the day before, not 2 hours before, and not after. Eating is not supposed to be a punishment and if you start starving yourself, not only will you guarantee a binge, but you'll also subconsciously connect eating with needing a punishment. My suggestion is to eat clean meals up until the feast, and then be a little relaxed after. That way you can still enjoy leftovers a few days later without feeling like crap. Hop back on the clean eating bus the following Monday.
#3, Help Prepare the Dinner
Come in with a plan. If you help with the planning and cooking, you can make sure there are plenty of healthy recipes for you to gouge on. Try including sides like roasted asparagus, baked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli, balsamic glazed carrots, and butternut squash. Not only are these earthy fall veggies delicious, but they're also full of healthy nutrients. Double whammy.
#4, Eat the Greens
Make sure you fill half your plate with a veggie, like broccoli, and protein (naturally lean turkey, ham, or tofurkey), and eat them first to help fill you up before you get to the delicious stuff. Hopefully, this will help you prevent binging, but even if you do slip up, at least you've had nutrient dense foods too.
#5, Visualize and Journal
Before you eat, I want you to sit down with pen and paper and practice a visualization exercise. Close your eyes and imagine eating an entire sweet potato, a large portion of mashed potatoes and gravy, a turkey breast, two scoops cranberry sauce, a small bowl of stuffing, and a slice of both apple and pumpkin pie. Imagine how full you will feel, and write it down. Be descriptive. Are your pants too tight? Does your stomach hurt? Are you exhausted after that?
Now I want you to repeat this exercise. This time imagine eating all the same stuff, but smaller portions. 1/2 a sweet potato, a small scoop of mashed potatoes with gravy, 1/3 of a turkey breast, 1 scoop of cranberry sauce, a scoop of stuffing, and only 1 slice of pie. Write down how you feel this time. Do you feel satisfied? Not too full? Are you happy and proud of yourself for not overdoing it?
We both know which outcome you would rather have. Visualizing it beforehand will help you avoid binging.
I hope these 5 tips will help you this Thanksgiving as they have me. Best of luck, and remember to forgive yourself if you do binge. You can't change the past, but you can change the future.