How to Avoid Emotional Eating on Thanksgiving

avoid food stress on thanksgiving 2018

4 Intuitive Eating Tips for a Peaceful Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be a stressful time, especially if you have a fraught relationship with food. Following are four Intuitive Eating tips to help you navigate the holiday (and every day) with greater peace and ease.

1. Fire Your Internal Food Police

Your internal food police are the loud voices in your head that tell you that you’re “good” or “bad” based on what or how you ate.

They try to enforce the unreasonable rules diet culture has created and make you feel guilty and ashamed about your food choices. And, they compel you to take compensatory measures to make up for your “food sins,” like exercising excessively or detoxing post-holiday—unhelpful behaviors that usually backfire.

In order to have a peaceful relationship with food, you must fire your food police by challenging your beliefs and rules and removing any morality and judgment surrounding food.

Keep in mind that…

  • All foods are emotionally equivalent regardless of their nutritional value. A baked sweet potato is equal to sweet potato pie; eating one or the other doesn’t make you good or bad.

  • Making peace with food means giving yourself unconditional permission to eat whatever looks good, tastes good and feels good in your body, without internal judgment or external influence.

  • All foods fit in a balanced diet. This includes everything from turkey, stuffing and green-bean casserole to Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes and mac-and-cheese. 

  • Normal eating includes sometimes eating simply for pleasure and sometimes eating until you're stuffed. Neither one is a crime you have to pay a penance for.

  • Unless you stole your food or harmed someone to get it, there’s no place for guilt in your eating world.

thanksgiving stress eating


2. Set Boundaries with External Food Police

Your external food police are people who say things like “Do you really need more mashed potatoes?” or “You’re gonna regret that second slice of pecan pie!”

Regardless of the food cop’s intentions, you have the right to eat whatever you want without having someone negatively comment on, criticize, judge or question your choices.

Whether it’s a family member, partner or friend patrolling your eating, it’s important to set boundaries regarding what comments are inappropriate and unwelcomed. Here are a few comebacks:

  • I trust myself to give my body what it needs.

  • You mind your own plate and I’ll mind mine.

  • I know you mean well, but your comments aren’t helpful.

Head on over to here for more ideas.

avoid emotional eating thanksgiving

3. Say No to Food Pushers

Whether they are trying to express their love, be a gracious host or offload their extra food, food pushers can be tricky to say no to, especially when they’re persistent. However, you’re under no obligation to take food you don’t want, either because you’re full or simply don’t desire it.

If a simple “No, thank you” doesn’t work, try responding with:

  • It looks so yummy but I’m full; I’d love to take some home or get your recipe.

  • I’d really love to eat more, but couldn’t possibly swallow another bite without feeling uncomfortably full.

  • I know I usually say yes, however, I’m trying to honor the messages my body is sending me, and right now, it's telling me it's full! I’m sure you can respect this.

avoid emotional eating

4. Squash the Diet and Weight Talk

“I’m being so bad! Today is definitely my cheat day!"

“This is a calorie bomb! We'll need to burn this off tomorrow!”

"I can't believe how many carbs I'm eating. I'm going to pay for this!"

During the Thanksgiving feast, it’s not uncommon to hear remarks like these. Nor is it uncommon for such remarks to trigger feelings of anxiety, guilt and shame.

Set an intention before the festivities to not participate in diet and weight talk. Instead, switch the topic to travel, sports, or the reason for the season—gratitude.