Written by Flourish Heights Contributor, Claudia Carrillo

Hey ladies! With Thanksgiving just around the corner, as well as the start of this year’s holiday season, many of us will be spending time with our loved ones. This is one of the perks of the holidays, for the most part. However some aspects, like conversations around the table regarding food and the latest diet trend your family member is trying out, not so much. Many of us can relate to the silent judgement by family on what you have on your plate (or how much for that matter). Dare I say it, even how you judge your own plate and the regret you feel for what you ate in the morning. Read on to check out our do’s and don’ts for Thanksgiving so you can have a great time with your loved ones and enjoy your plate without restriction.

In this next Thanksgiving and holiday season,

Do: Fill your plate with whatever you desire.
Don’t: Avoid certain foods or sides …well, unless you have an allergy or intolerance.

Let’s be honest; Thanksgiving is not only about the turkey. What makes a Thanksgiving meal delicious is… drumroll… the sides! Some common sides include mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, mac and cheese, stuffing, salad, along with your family’s own traditional or cultural foods. For example, in Puerto Rican and African families, rice and plantains are always present at the table, no matter what holiday is being celebrated. And let’s not even mention the desserts: every type of pie you can possibly imagine, cookies, cake, and, in my case, cultural goodies like FLAN (custard)! If you noticed, most of these sides and desserts contain carbs, which are commonly known to have a bad reputation. However, carbs are not the enemy. It is very much possible to fit carbs into your healthy lifestyle. Did you know that your brain’s preferred source of energy is glucose?

That being said, you are your body’s keeper. You know how you feel best and what foods help with that feeling. You might have a health condition or allergy that prevents you from enjoying some foods, and that is okay. We encourage you to fill your plate with what makes your belly feel happy and satisfied. There’s no one-size-fits-all in nutrition, and there’s no better feeling than eating a good meal that you desire!

Do: Honor your hunger.
Don’t: Serve yourself less to avoid others staring at your plate, or start thinking how you’re going to burn off the extra calories you ate.

Now, after you decide what you put on your plate, the part that makes most of us (including myself) anxious is the portion size. In buffets, we tend to eat with our eyes first. Depending on how hungry we arrive at mealtime, we might be compelled to put more food on our plates. If the food is already plated and we’re at a table eating and talking, we might eat more. Some might eat less if they feel like they’re being watched. Food is not only our source of energy and nutrients, but it also has a social aspect to it. An important point to mention is that humans tend to follow trends, and yes, this applies to food as well! If the person before you served a little amount on their plate, you’re most likely to not serve yourself more than that. Or if you feel like you’re eating more than your older brother or uncles, you might not eat everything you have on your plate.

We all tend to fall into these tendencies unconsciously. It is important to keep them in mind to avoid under or overeating, especially in social situations. Do eat the food that will keep you satisfied, but don’t eat less to avoid stares or comments. Allow yourself to eat foods you probably don’t eat very often and don’t sabotage the meal by thinking how much you need to work out the following day to burn off the calories. You don’t need to burn the calories you just ate. You don’t need to earn a meal or dessert. You can very well enjoy it and go on with your life. Don’t allow diet culture to dictate your mood and holiday spirit!

Do: Spend quality time with your loved ones.
Don’t: Say anything about anyone’s body.

For many people, holidays are the time where they are finally reunited with your loved ones. You might be far away from them or might not see them very often throughout the year. And if you do, consider yourself lucky! Either way, spending quality time with your loved ones is a gift we shouldn’t take for granted. Do put your phone away and be intentional with them. Don’t praise anyone’s weight loss or mention their weight gain. A good rule of thumb is to not say anything that you wouldn’t like hearing. We are all fighting our own battles, and we don’t know what someone might be going through, and certain comments about their bodies can be a trigger.

Do: Have boundaries (yes, even with your loved ones).
Don’t: Let negative comments put you down.

With that being said, there’s almost always someone that will comment on your appearance especially if they don’t see you very often. How we recommend tackling this is saying something along these lines: “Hey [insert name], I appreciate/don’t appreciate that type of comment about my body but/and respectfully, I would not like to talk about it any further.” And then continue the conversation at the table.

Be bold and change the topic if necessary..Setting boundaries with your loved ones might be challenging and even difficult, because their comments might be meant in the best way possible. But when you’re struggling with your appearance it can get annoying. Again, some comments can be triggering if you don’t know if that person is struggling. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries! Once you do, you’ll notice a change in your mood. It is truly freeing!

We encourage you to break patterns this Thanksgiving and enjoy the holidays in the healthiest way for you! Don’t be afraid to eat what and as much as you desire, set boundaries respectfully, and spend quality time with your loved ones.

Hope you have a gourd Thanksgiving (pun intended)!