Tips to Eating Thanksgiving Dinner, Not Your Feelings

The tips below are written for "normals" but work just as well for us WLS'ers as many of us deal with the same eating issues.
Give them some thought.

  • Depending on what time turkey dinner is served, eat a light breakfast – enough that you will be hungry for dinner but not too hungry.  Keep in mind that if you are hungry for dinner, it will taste better.  If, however, you are too hungry when you eat, you will tend to overeat and eat too fast to enjoy the food. 
  • If your family is like many, there will be lots of food lying around before dinner starts.  Do not snack on these before dinner; again, you want to feel hungry (at about a 3 on a 10 point scale) before dinner.  However, if it looks good to you, consider saving some to eat during dinner.  Wrap it up in a napkin, if you want.  Often times, just knowing you can have the treat later, will diminish the need for it NOW. 
  • Only put on your plate the foods you love.  Challenge yourself to pass up the salad that your Aunt Suzy made just because you don't want her to feel bad.  This scenario is often an underlying issue for compulsive eaters and will only hurt you in the end. 
  • Eat your favorite foods first, when they will taste the best. As your stomach begins to fill up, foods will not taste as good. Enjoying all the good stuff first may support you in stopping before your stuffed.
  • Half way through your meal, stop eating and check in with your body.  Notice where you are on the hunger scale (see my article "Put Your Hunger on the Scale" on my website). When you start to feel full, slow down or stop eating.  Make sure you can take home leftovers.  For example, ask your host for leftovers – "Mom, this turkey and gravy is DELICIOUS! I really want to eat more now but I am too full. Would you mind if I take some home to enjoy tomorrow?"  Again, making this happen and reminding yourself of it can help ease your desire to continue eating the yummy food.
  • If you begin to feel overwhelmed with family, consider taking a walk, talking to someone you like, or even hiding out in the bathroom for a bit.  It's often hard to let yourself feel the pain or sadness of a difficult interaction with family members.  However if you do nothing but just be aware of your feelings, you'll ultimately feel better than if you lose control and have to cope with the added physical discomfort and emotional guilt of eating to cope with those family feelings.
  • Save room for pie!  If your family is like mine, pie seems to come way too soon after dinner.  Remember that you can always say, "I'm not hungry yet, I'll wait to eat my slice later" and be sure your favorite is saved for you.  Trust me, you will enjoy your pie more if you are hungry when you eat it.
  • Spend some time giving thanks and appreciation to yourself, your growth, people in your life, pets that you love.  Create a new family ritual or just do this yourself or with friends.

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