Why ‘overindulging’ at your Thanksgiving dinner isn’t a big deal

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Along with Thanksgiving dinner, it’s that time of year when people worry about their food intake.

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But does feasting during your holiday meal make a big difference to your body? According to experts, not really.

“It’s really not a big deal in the long term for most people. Research shows that it’s the behavior you maintain over time — so think about weeks, months, years — that will affect your life.” And Dr. Rachel Reed, senior director of health sciences and research for your health, says “as opposed to focusing on just one meal a day or one meal within a day.” Orangetheory Fitness,


That’s because an isolated event, like a large holiday meal, is unlikely to disrupt our body’s composition, which does a good job of sustaining itself, explains Evan Matthews, MD, associate professor of exercise science and physical education. . Montclair State University,

“We don’t gain fat quickly, and we don’t lose fat quickly… the things that are going to affect your body composition the most are going to be lifestyle,” he says. “If you only consume one here or there at special events, it’s unlikely it’s going to have a dramatic effect on your weight.”

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In addition to worries about food, people also feel pressure to work over the holidays to “burn” or “make room” for their turkey.

But Reid points out that the idea of ​​limiting calories or a transactional approach of working to “earn calories” or “earn the right to indulge” in food can lead to harmful attitudes.

“We want to think about habits over the long term. And when you have that restrictive mindset, research shows that it’s going to be harder for you to maintain the healthy behaviors that we know most people do, like eating nutritious foods.” Trying- a dense diet and being physically active. So I think this kind of ‘allowing to eat’ can be a slippery slope,” she adds.

One end of a slippery slope may be disordered eating.

Going out during the holidays can be enjoyable for some, but not everyone has the same relationship with food. For people who struggle with eating disorders, the term “overindulging” may also be triggering because it puts a “moral value on the quantity of food,” says Chelsea M. Krongold, communications chief National Eating Disorders Association,

“Just the thought of a food-focused vacation can be overwhelming and cause anxiety for people struggling with eating disorders,” she says. “Unfortunately, diet culture prevails during Thanksgiving and other food-focused holidays.”

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Someone who struggles with anorexia or restrictive disordered eating may be more inclined to “shut down” during meals, Kronengold explains, while someone with bulimia or binge eating disorder may want to “save all the calories.” May feel inclined to skip meals. For Thanksgiving, but that could make things worse.

“Then you go for this Thanksgiving meal, and you’re extra hungry and so you’re more likely to binge due to the fact that you’re not eating throughout the day and sticking to a meal plan if you have Huh.”

Kronengold thinks we should also break the stigma of weight gain in general, especially in our holiday conversations.

“We always talk about, ‘Don’t worry, you’re not going to gain weight.’ And it’s not necessarily helpful language either. It perpetuates fatphobia and weight stigma,” she explains. “Everyone eats differently and consumes different amounts of foods, so what might be considered overeating for one person is not for another. And so paying attention to your own plate is really important in.”

Instead of focusing so much on food during the holidays, Krongold suggests moving it elsewhere.

“There’s more to a holiday than food. Whether it’s spending time with loved ones, watching or playing football, or the Thanksgiving Day parade… (or) putting that energy into practicing gratitude can be helpful,” she says.

You can also skip your Thanksgiving Day workouts, says Mathews. Instead, he suggests choosing a year-round routine for your health.

“You’re better off starting low and progressing slowly with exercise because it’s the long-term adherence that really matters,” he says.

Reed agrees that it’s best to stay away from guilt-fueled fitness focused on calories.

“When people focus only on that transactional nature of exercise, they often lose sight of the huge life-changing benefits that we believe to be true from research[like]almost every type of chronic disease. Lower rates, better mental health, better sleep[and]lower risk for certain types of cancer.”

She also says that while it’s important to have a flexible mindset, while it’s great if you want to continue with your typical workouts during the holiday, “in the grand scheme of things, it’s a day off,”

And movement can happen outside the gym as well.

Pointing to the health benefits of being active, she says, “playing cornhole with the family in the backyard, or going on extra walks with your dog, or even cleaning the house and preparing for company.” , that’s all that matters.” , “It’ll help you feel more energized, deal with any holiday stress maybe, help you keep up with your bedtime schedule. It’s also easier for you to do all the fun things that come with the holiday season.” Will be done.”

If you or a loved one is struggling with food and body image is a Thanksgiving anxiety, know that you are not alone. Available through NEDA Helpline click-to-chat 12 noon to 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. For 24/7 crisis support, text “NEDA” to 741-741.

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