Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that you are having a happy and peaceful holiday. Although this is my wish for you I know that may not be your reality. Thanksgiving is a very triggering and upsetting time for some people. It is especially triggering and upsetting for people struggling with an eating disorder.

You may be feeling stressed and overwhelmed. It is possible you are already calculating and configuring how many portions and what different foods you can eat. You may feel stressed because you worry people will comment to the size of the portion on your plate.

You are scared you are going to overeat. You worry that will not be able to control what you eat. You fear that you will lose control and won’t be able to stop yourself from eating.

You may feel anxious because you worry about having to eat in front of other people and you worry they will make comments about what you are eating.

You may be feeling scared that what you will eat will change your body. Or you fear you will eat too much and feel guilty.

While your friends and family are enjoying you meal you will be dying and struggling on the inside. You just want the meal to be over.

Here are 5 tips to overcome the shame and obsessive thinking you will have while eating your Thanksgiving dinner.

  1. Wear loose clothing. Dress comfortably. You are probably going to feel stressed and anxious about how your body feels following consuming this meal, so agree to wear to comfortable and loose clothes so you are less likely to feel tight in your clothes.
  2. Before sitting down, find a quiet spot (the bathroom is great) and take a few big deep breaths in and out to relax and calm the body.
  3. Tell yourself “I choose what food I put in my body” and as you eat repeat this statement over and over. Say I choose to eat this (sweet potato casserole) and I can choose what food I put in my body. This reminds you that you are in control of your body and that you can control the food that you eat.
  4. Pace yourself. You don’t want to eat too slow or too fast. You don’t want to be the first one done eating or the last one done eating. Think about putting your fork down between each bite. If you struggle with anorexia and are fighting urges to restrict, pick the fork up and begin your next bite once you finish the bite.
  5. Distract yourself with conversation. Rather than look at the food. Rather than focus on the calories being counted in your head. Rather than focusing on how your body feels engage in conversation with family. Listen to a story. Suggest to play a game or watch a movie following the meal so that you can stay distracted following the meal.

These are by no means a way to manage and deal with an eating disorder on a daily basis. These tips are to help you get through a potentially stressful and tough day. An eating disorder can be treated, but it takes time and support. Consider getting through this tough day, you can do it, and give me a call and see how you can get help to overcome obsessing about food and your body.


* Dr. Stephanie Waitt, LPC is a psychotherapist in private practice in Sherman, Texas. Stephanie works with young and successful women to help restore balance and peace. She specializes in working with individuals with eating disorders, trauma, anxiety, and depression. You can learn more about her practice at www.texomaspecialtycounseling.com.