Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. It is universal and not attached to a religion so it is something that most of the country celebrates together. It is about fostering gratitude for the blessings in our lives. All good things.
But, it is still a time spent with family and friends and it is a time of excess food as well. For the person who struggles with food issues it can be a stressful situation. So here are a few tips on how to be a supportive family member this holiday season for the people you love.
- Do compliment your family member and express pleasure that they’ve joined you for the meal.
- Don’t make a snide comment about their food intake or weight. If you have health concerns about a family member’s weight/health, a rich meal is not the time to bring it up
- Do let a guest bring substitutions or contribute items to the meal – Are they vegetarian? Ask them to bring their own favorite dish to share. Then they know there will be options suitable for them.
- Do feel free to make healthier substitutions in your recipes. Don’t feel the need to broadcast unless asked.
- Do have a variety of appetizers, including healthy options like vegetables or fruit. Don’t police their eating for them. There is no need for you to track how much they are eating.
- If you set out place cards, do give a chair without arms to an overweight family member. They may not notice the gesture but they will be more comfortable. Likewise, consider putting them on the end of a table so they can not feel like they are encroaching on personal space.
- Don’t be a food pusher. No, a guest doesn’t need to try everything, they don’t need to have seconds if they don’t want it, they can say no to dessert or wine or gravy. Let people make their own food choices. Don’t foist on them the family traditional casserole through guilt. If they want some they will take it on their own.
- Do let them stop when they are full.
- Do provide recipes for people looking to figure out calories or points. It isn’t a judgement of your cooking but an attempt to stay in control.
- Do remember that Thanksgiving is about family first and to enjoy your time together. Don’t let food get in the way. The people you invite are blessings in your life, treat them accordingly.
Thanksgiving is a lot of pressure if you are overweight or trying to lose weight. Some people will choose to eat and enjoy for the day, others will try to stay to a strict plan, and still others will attempt a plan only to end up eating more than anticipated. Don’t add to the stress that a big holiday meal provides by giving judgements to their choices. Love them and be grateful for their presence in your life.