Being Mindful on Thanksgiving

Dana’ Tips for handling a day full of celebratory food! 

I have been hearing several people say things like, “I’m nervous for thanksgiving,” “there are so many foods that trigger me on Thanksgiving,” along with “I’m not going to worry about Thanksgiving, I’m just going to eat what I want.” 

I have written before about the all-or-nothing trap, and unfortunately, holidays and celebrations can just as easily fall into this black-and-white thinking. I want to encourage you to find a beautiful gray area in the middle when it comes to your upcoming day full of beautiful foods. Here are a few tips to help keep you choosing your foods, rather than the foods choosing you.  


Unfortunately, even though holidays are full of joy, they can also bring forth a lot of stress.  

Tip 1: Spend some time in the morning moving your body in a way that helps combat stress. Some will prefer a more intense workout to burn off more calories, while others may prefer something more restorative and relaxing like yoga to get their mind centered. There is no wrong choice here but be sure to pick a form of movement that you enjoy. Don’t just pick one because you feel you HAVE to work the hardest on this day. The point here is to let exercise/movement be a medicine that helps reduce stress levels, which will ultimately help you to be more mindful in your choices around food.  


With this holiday comes lots of calorie loaded food that can sometimes leave us feeling uncomfortable. A good way to think about comfort food is, how can we call it that, if it leaves us feeling uncomfortable after we eat it? 

Tip 2: Find tasty and healthy swaps. Fortunately, we live in a time where there are so many healthy alternative options to choose from for some of our classic comforts. Many of them even taste great. What are your favorite classic thanksgiving dishes, and can you make some swaps to the ingredients to make them a little less contributory to a ‘gut bomb?’ For example, I love green bean casserole but unfortunately the dairy in the cream of mushroom soup and the grease in the fried onion crisps doesn’t particularly agree with me. Every year I make a different version of green bean casserole using vegetable broth, almond flour, almond milk, a splash of coconut milk and arrowroot starch. There are so many recipes on the world wide web to seek out healthier alternatives, but I will post this recipe below.  


Because the holiday often encompasses the entire day of family gathering, it puts us more likely to graze mindlessly all day. We are multi-tasking while we eat because we are socializing. I wholeheartedly believe that food is beautiful and cultural and therefore it is ok to celebrate with food, however, we still want to be empowered in our choices. Don’t look at this next tip as something that is restrictive or diet mentality, but rather look at it as being kind to your body. I personally want to feel energetic and lively on this day to be able to participate in more memory making rather than feeling bloated, gassy, and fatigued on the couch because I was just mindlessly taking in food all day long.  

Tip 3: Listen to hunger and fullness cues. Connect to your senses while eating. Use your 5 senses to see, smell, feel, hear what is around you, and fully connect to the flavors in your food through taste. This approach will slow you down while eating, allowing you to chew more and honor your fullness cues to stop eating once satisfied. 


After someone has been on many diets in their life, it is easy to approach food with judgement and look at foods as ‘good and bad.’ This language can be harmful and further spin the diet yo-yo. I encourage you to let that language go and put more energy into tip 3. 

Tip 4: Approach food preferences without judgement. No food is bad, and therefore you are not bad for eating certain food. Sure, different foods will make you feel a certain way and affect your body in different ways, so it is ok to make choices that are motivated by how foods make you feel. But even if you choose a food that you might associate as ‘bad,’ it has no merit on your worth or value. Food does not change that. Guilt and judgement are optional. Choose to not pick those up. 

Food is so much more than a calorie. Food is energy that communicates to our cells to behave in a certain way. See food for what it is, and you will learn to enjoy it more. Learn to enjoy your food, particularly the foods that offer so much benefit to your body. Get your hands in it and prepare it. This will help you change your relationship with it.  

Tip 5: Get your hands in your food and prepare it. Learning how to prepare healthy foods is a game changer in improving your overall health. Take advantage of this day off and try preparing a healthy dish that maybe you have never tried before. Don’t be afraid to mess it up. Experimentation and creativity are encouraged.  

I am thankful for all of you who come to see me at Horizonview Health. I am thankful for your willingness and effort in working toward greater quality and longevity of life. Changing habits is not easy, so I am thankful for YOUR hard work.