I did it. It was my first Thanksgiving since embracing Intuitive Eating and, though I was petrified because I have never been able to not overeat at Thanksgiving, I was optimistic. I hoped that with the proper preparation, I would be able to enjoy Thanksgiving for what it was—a holiday to celebrate family, enjoy food, and offer thanks to God for all the blessings in my life. Previously, my inability to enjoy food at Thanksgiving—due to anxiety that I would overeat and then actually overeating and feeling disgusted with myself—dampened the joy of the other experiences of the holiday—time with my family and counting my blessings. But I was determined to make this year different.
At the forefront of my success was the holiday bill of rights as a constant refrain in my mind, and almost more important than that was my conviction that I was going to do this, that I was going to listen to my body, enjoy the food, and stop when I was satisfied. When I sat down at the table—smelling the spiced turkey and stuffing, seeing the steam of the mashed potatoes rising in tendrils—I knew that everything was going to be okay.
As I filled my plate with a little bit of everything, I knew that I would be satisfied with that and so I started my internal dialogue: Wow, this food is delicious. It has been so long since I have tasted turkey this tender and oh, the Martinelli’s is perfect. I’m beginning to feel satisfied and I already decided that I want to remember the food as being delicious and something I can recall with joy, not disgust. I’m seeing everyone going back for seconds and I’m getting worried that there wont be any food left when I want more later. Remind myself that I can make my own Thanksgiving meal again next week if I feel like I haven’t been able to enjoy each dish as much as I would like. There is no reason to overeat. I can do this. I am listening to my body right now, and I feel great.
The result of this dialogue was that I enjoyed my food, did not go back for seconds, and most astonishingly, felt no desire to go back for seconds and overeat. I did not feel deprived whatsoever. So, just in case you need a recap, the “secrets” to my success were the following: (1) holiday bill of rights as a constant refrain in my mind, (2) a strong conviction of my ability and a decision that I was going to listen to my body’s cues, and (3) a running inner dialogue that both acknowledged how I was feeling in the moment, what I wanted to do based on the emotions, and reminded myself of my convictions and how following those convictions was going to make me feel.
I know that what I have said might seem impossible for some of you and I want you to know that I have been there, just a few months ago. I never could have imagined that I could possibly be where I am today, but I am, and I truly have faith that you can to. You have power, more than you think you have, and even if you feel like no one is in your corner, know that I am. I am right beside you, cheering you on, and comforting you when needed. I may not know each of you individually, but I know that a common struggle binds us together, knitting us together and forging a new identity for all of us and maybe, possibly, for our world. I have hoped and prayed that your Thanksgiving holidays were also successful, but I would love to hear all your stories in the comments below, whether they were positive or more of learning experiences.