Thanksgiving (or, National Binge Day) can be difficult if you're struggling with food, weight and body image issues. Dr. Nina provides some tips and strategies for how to survive Thanksgiving without losing control, or losing your mind!
The media celebrates Thanksgiving as the beginning of the holiday season. Commercials and advertisements make it seem as if every family in the world is happy, loving, close (and Caucasian), gathering over a table loaded with turkey and all the trimmings, grateful for their wonderful lives. For many people, this scenario is a complete fantasy, not even close to reality.
Thanksgiving (sometimes known as “National Binge Day”) is also a time when people are expected to eat until they are in a stupor, and it’s even considered bad manners not to taste everything on the table. If you struggle with disordered eating, this can be extremely challenging.
Be a social anthropologist. When you’re watching and observing, you’re not a participant. You’re not “in” it when you’ve got some distance. That distance can be very illuminating.
When you hear your mom or dad or grandparents criticize your sister or brother or cousin, you can see more clearly how you learned to criticize yourself.
When you realize that your mother apologizes for every bite she eats, you’ll recognize how you learned to feel guilty for every bite you take.
Access your inner Oprah or Ellen or Barbara Walters. When you’re asking questions, you’re not defending yourself, or explaining or justifying anything. Ask your family to talk about themselves; that’s probably something they love to do, and if they’re talking about themselves, they’re not criticizing, judging, and commenting about you. Ask yourself questions, too:
*What is the most difficult part of Thanksgiving? Food? Family? Lack of family?
*What do you like about the holiday season?
*What helps during this time?
*What doesn’t help?
*What are the emotional triggers?
Identify the emotional triggers. If you think you’re triggered by food, maybe you’re actually being triggered by an emotional need. If you find yourself thinking about filling foods such as mashed potatoes or stuffing, perhaps you are lonely and seeking to fill an internal emptiness.
If you are drawn to pumpkin pie and sweets, maybe you need more comfort/sweetness in your life.
If you can’t get enough chips or pretzels, could be that you’re angry.
If you find yourself turning against food, it’s possible that you are denying your needs – not just for food, but your human need for connection, love, and friendship.
Be grateful: Think of one thing you appreciate; whether it’s a person or a situation, hanging onto one good thing can shed light in the darkness and keep you going through the holiday season.
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