Thanksgiving: It’s Not Always Sunshine and Gratitude Rainbows

When You Struggle With Your Relationship With Food

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.
What To Do At Thanksgiving If You Struggle With Your Relationship With Food

Thanksgiving was a holiday that used to put my anxiety level through the roof. You see, I used to oscillate between times of extreme restriction and complete out of control eating. And when you struggle with guilt and shame over what you eat and how you eat, a holiday that mainly revolves around food can be pretty stressful.

All the talk of how much you have to be thankful for was great but it never put a dent in how I really felt about this holiday. Which was complete and utter angst. Gratitude honestly didn’t stand a chance when thoughts like these would occupy my head space:

“I can eat pumpkin pie but I have to run or workout for x number of minutes in the morning.”

“I won’t eat stuffing but I will eat mashed potatoes.”

“I will skip breakfast and lunch so that I can eat more at dinner.”

“OMG, I’m so full!!! Why did I eat so much?! Ugh. My stomach hurts. I feel so fat. Now I will have to get up tomorrow and run three extra miles to burn it all off. I knew I should have skipped the pie.”

If you can relate, let me share a tip and a mindset shift that has helped me immensely over the years and one that I now share with all my clients. It’s called Adding In. It’s not about what you can’t have. It’s not about rules. It’s not about lists. But it IS about what you will incorporate into your meal that you know is going to make you feel awesome.

So here is how it works in this case. When you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, ask yourself this question:

What can I ADD to my plate that will support my health?

Think in terms of beautiful and colorful vegetables. We all know that vegetables are good for us. They are incredibly nutrient dense and contain phytonutrients which are the compounds that give a plant its color and have amazing health benefits.

The standard Thanksgiving plate consists of mostly browns, yellows, and whites. Could you add some color to your plate to give it a healthy boost? Could you add in some green? Maybe some purple?

But what happens if you don’t have anything green or purple to choose from? Why not think about adding it to the meal plan right now? This could be as simple as throwing together a salad or roasting some red cabbage. Don’t over complicate it.

I am no Julia Child in the kitchen and I like to keep things really simple. This year I am roasting some brussels sprouts and butternut squash. I am in love with both of these vegetables right now and I know they make me feel great so they have been added to the menu.

I know it’s easier said than done to let go of all the rules, the lists of good foods, and the lists of bad foods. But I encourage you to try – even if it’s just this once – to switch your focus to what you will ADD to your meal instead of what you feel like you should take away, use willpower to avoid, or not allow yourself to have.

Because here is the secret…

…when you add something IN that supports your health you naturally crowd OUT something that doesn’t. 

It’s a simple technique that really works. Plus, it’s much easier to actually count your blessings and practice gratitude when your mind isn’t preoccupied with thoughts over what to eat and what not to eat.  

Originally published at

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

How to Survive Thanksgiving When You (Kind of) Hate Thanksgiving

by Rebecca Kolinski
My silent 5 year old birthday party

Conversational Remedies for a Tough Thanksgiving

by Fred Dust

Last 30 Days

by Heather Lowe

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.