As somebody who took a very long time to get over her body image issues (some of which still remain), I do not bother with freaking out over “Thanksgiving weight.” But every year, there are about 6 million articles on losing weight you may or may not have gained due to feasting with family and friends, so I’m forced to think about the topic. In my opinion, post-Thanksgiving dieting is a bad idea.
Believe me, I get it: when you’ve given into temptation several times within a matter of days, it can be difficult to feel at ease with your choices. Being healthy is important to many people, so that sort of stress can trigger a lot of guilt about what’s been eaten as well as fear of how it will affect your appearance. We’ve been trained to feel guilt when we do something “wrong,” such as eating cheesecake and pumpkin pie and ice cream and cannolis (example via personal experience three days ago), making Thanksgiving the prime time to step into the office of anxiety.
Upset thoughts such as “I’m going to look terrible in Christmas photos” or “I won’t be able to fit into the holiday dress I just bought” or “now my diet is ruined” may be running through your mind after a bit of a binge. But this type of mindset can lead to overcompensation with dieting, added stress and irritability towards oneself and others. Is that really how you want to spend December? Just worried about food and whether or not your waistline has bounced back yet?
Rather than inducing guilt, try to get overeating to lead towards a desire to strategize, not criticize. Simply adjusting back to a balanced, healthy diet will make your body feel better in a non-stressful way, as opposed to weighing yourself obsessively and restricting caloric intake. It’s the age old difference of going on a diet versus having a healthful diet: one is a temporary way to “solve a problem,” whereas the other is a lifestyle choice with no end date.
Keeping a mindset that involves rational thinking, planning and managing will help keep you from those guilty feelings. Did you pile on the sweet potatoes and stuffing too high? It’s all right, let it go! You’re not a failure, you’re not disgusting and you don’t deserve to be criticized, even and especially by yourself.
The fact of the matter is that you’ve likely spent the holiday with loved ones and some great food, which makes for wonderful memories. Think about how much fun you may have had making rolls with your aunt or the delicious texture and taste of your grandfather’s classic mashed potatoes recipe. Why dwell on the bad when so much good is sitting right there in mental snapshots?
Lovelies, do you partake in post-Thanksgiving dieting?