How To Have A (Mentally) Healthy Thanksgiving, Tip #1

Eyes on your own plate. Our relationship with food is personal and people do various things for various reasons. Especially if you’ve made dietary changes for gut health or are trying to not feel shame from “dieting” relatives because you love Grandma’s pumpkin pie (who doesn’t?), this key phrase will be helpful. Don’t judge others, and set the boundaries in their commentary on your food. Every one gets to make their own food choices and it’s not our job to be responsible for anyone but ourselves (and maybe a picky 3 year old who just hasn’t tried stuffing yet).

Additionally, try not to make commentary on people’s looks, weight, or body — good or bad. As an eating disorder therapist, I have a heightened awareness of how this impacts people. Whether someone in your own family struggles with an ED or not, most people do struggle with body image or feeling like their sense of worth comes from the way that they look. It’s important that as a culture we shift this way in thinking. It’s not bad to comment on a person’s great sense of style or how their energy shines through their smile, but making what they look like the first and main thing you talk about sets the precedent that “looks matter more” than all of the other awesome parts of the person. Especially for women. Let’s take shaming food and “image-focused talk” out of connection-based holidays!

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