Thanksgiving Is About More Than Just Food

Give Thanks

For some people, Thanksgiving is about family, for some it is about the food, for others it is about Black Friday 🙂  For individuals suffering from Anorexia, Bulimia or Bulimarexia, it can be a nightmare, as it means being expected/given permission to overeat. If you are Anorexic, any eating feels like overeating and if you are bulimic, overeating usually leads to purging. For those suffering from obesity, it is another challenge in a never-ending set of challenges to stay on track and not over-indulge.  For those who do not have family or friends, it can be a lonely day.

But it is still a day for giving thanks and focusing on our blessings is actually good for us.

That said, life can get very complicated, and never more so than now with COVID-19.  Health officials are asking folks to celebrate only with the people with whom they already live.  In other words, no friends or extended family.  This is an even bigger ask because so many people have been separated from loved ones for so long and are longing to be together again.  The problem is that the pandemic is raging right now, worse than it ever has been and we still do not fully understand who does and doesn’t “shed” the virus and pass it on.  

Although this is one of the worst crises we have ever faced as a nation, there is still much to be thankful for. Giving thanks – or gratitude is very powerful.  In fact, gratitude has amazing powers to heal.  It turns out that being thankful is healthy. Literally.  People who are grateful are generally in better health than those who are angry or bitter.  

You know how keen I am on a “clean” diet? Well it turns out that complaining and judging are almost as unhealthy as a polluted diet.  There is very good research on the difference in physical symptoms between bitter versus thankful people, with thankful people winning hands down.

Why?  Because gratitude shifts your perspective.  It helps you focus on the positives instead of the negatives.  In psychology, we know that whatever we focus on grows larger.  So it only makes sense then to focus on the positive instead of the negative. 

Because gratitude is a focus on the positive, when you practice it regularly the negatives grow smaller and smaller and at some point, you barely notice them. 

Gratitude can also act like an antidepressant. I often have patients who are really struggling list 3 things that they are grateful for.  It is amazing how helpful this can be.  Many of my patients report that this activity changed the way they were feeling for the rest of the day, or sometimes the rest of the week.

That is what Thanksgiving is about.  Gratitude. Giving thanks for the blessings that we do have, however small. 

A tip for my patients struggling with eating disorders and obesity:

  1. Whether you are making your own dinner or sharing it with your immediate family, prepare or request something that you are comfortable eating in front of your loved ones if at all possible so that you can participate. 
  2. If you are going to be alone, reach out to family/friends by phone.
  3. Focus on the loving feelings and suspend the self-doubt and self-criticism

In addition, for everyone:

  1. Play with a little kid.
  2. Pitch in – busy is good.
  3. Be kind, to those around you and to yourself. Whether you’re at home with your own family or are self- isolating with a pet, take a moment to appreciate the company you are keeping, even if it is only you. It’s easy to focus on the annoying habits of those we love, especially when we have been holed up with them too long. Spend this time focusing on what you love about them, and yourself.
  4. Practice self-care. Indulge yourself a bit.
  5. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, do not make it worse by beating yourself up for it.
  6. Compliment the chef or if you are the chef, accept the compliments graciously.  Say thank you.
  7. If you cannot get together with the family because of COVID-19, try to focus on how wonderful next Thanksgiving is going to be.

Remember Thanksgiving is about more than just food…. and so are YOU!!

If you need support over this holiday season reach out to me directly at 513 205 6543.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Does someone you love suffer from an eating disorder? 

Dr. Renae Norton specializes in the treatment of eating disorders. Located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Call 513-205-6543 to schedule an appointment or fill out our online contact form for someone to call you to discuss your concerns. Tele-therapy sessions available. Individual and family sessions also available.

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Materials contained on this site are made available solely for educational purposes and as part of an effort to raise general awareness of the psychological treatments available to individuals with health issues. These materials are not intended to be, and are not a substitute for, direct professional medical or psychological care based on your individual condition and circumstances.  Dr. J. Renae Norton does not diagnose or treat medical conditions. While this site may contain descriptions of pharmacological, psychiatric and psychological treatments, such descriptions and any related materials should not be used to diagnose or treat a mental health problem without consulting a qualified mental health care provider.  You are advised to consult your medical health provider about your personal questions or concerns.