Thanksgiving is notoriously a time for overindulgence. It is a holiday that is about family and food, entertainment and food, gratitude and food….it is about turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, apple-cranberry pie and just about any other delicious carnivorous or vegan dish one can think of to celebrate our blessings. Thanksgiving is also a holiday that can bring angst for anyone in recovery from alcohol, other drug or food addiction. The accepted norm of overindulgence at Thanksgiving is challenging for many. And then there are rituals like ‘Blackout Wednesday” or “Drinksgiving” which I guess is a thing… drinking in excess the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. WHY??? How did Thanksgiving turn into this type of holiday? Ugh.
Thanksgiving is already fraught with a tragic, dark history, we don’t need to add to this story. The colorful and bountiful images of settlers and Native Americans celebrating together is likely a mere embellishment of the true nature of the feast that occurred in 1619. This holiday also disregards, to the dismay of many, the terrible conflict and decimation of the Native American population. I was raised to believe in the fairytale version of ‘Pilgrims and Indians’ and only later in my life – as my daughters began to teach me – did I realize the painful reality of this holiday. Today, I choose to acknowledge the factual history, take time to honor the memory of those who lost their lives, AND celebrate the many blessings of my life.
Below are 3 Tips for Mindful Eating & Drinking (for those sober and not sober) that will hopefully help you navigate your week and truly be able to enjoy a holiday rich with Intention, Pleasure and Joy.
Intention, Pleasure & Joy ~ Eating & Drinking Mindfully This Week
3 Tips for Mindful Eating & Drinking
1.Set an Intention and Choose to Be Mindful
Overindulgence is a consequence of not being intentional or mindful. Oftentimes we graze, snack, eat appetizers, accept offers of another glass of wine or a second helping of mashed potatoes without even thinking about it. One of the biggest gifts you can give yourself before going to any kind of party or celebration is to CHOOSE TO BE MINDFUL. Set an intention, before you go, and decide whether you are planning to stay sober or drink – and if you are drinking, who is driving? and whether you are going to eat without restraint or are you following a diet plan that you want to adhere to? Bring your full attention to your actions. Before you start mindlessly eating appetizers, get yourself a plate, serve what you’d like and then consciously be finished, clearing your plate. Before you grab a second helping at dinner, take a moment to check in with your body – are you still hungry or satiated? This isn’t a message of control – it is a message of being conscious and awake – and will leave you with no regret, just pleasure.
Special Note for Sober People: Setting an intention for sobriety BEFORE YOU GO to an event is a key to staying sober. Staying sober during the holidays is often difficult and staying present and mindful is critical. When you are comfortable, notice and stay. When you are uncomfortable, notice and do something different – even if it means leaving. Take care of yourself and your sobriety …first and foremost!
2. Say A Blessing
Saying a blessing before you eat is a beautiful, simple, easy and purposeful way to enjoy your meal. There are many written blessings you can say or you may come up with something meaningful yourself. Here are a few of my favorites.
For the meal we are about to eat,
for those that made it possible,
and for those with whom we are about to share it,
we are thankful.
We give thanks for the plants and animals who have given themselves so that we can enjoy this meal together.
We also give thanks for our friends and family who have traveled here today.
May this meal bring us strength and health.
We receive this food in gratitude to all beings
Who have helped to bring it to our table,
And vow to respond in turn to those in need
With wisdom and compassion.
Thank you God for the meal before us. Thank you to all those who made this meal possible. Thank you to the plants and
animals, the sun and the moon, the rain and the wind. We are truly blessed.
And, of course, a simple, mindful, THANK YOU or I BLESS THIS FOOD is perfect!
3. Pay Attention to Your Body
So simple and yet so hard! Notice if you are hungry, thirsty, satiated or full …check in throughout the day or evening. It is hard to overindulge when you are paying attention to your own voice, your own body’s message of what you need. Pause between bites. Pause between sips. Pause between courses. Breathe. Notice. And, MOVE YOUR BODY. Take a walk before dinner. Take a walk after dinner. Get on the floor and play with the kids. Clear the table. Wash the dishes. Play a game of charades. Walking helps with digestion and control of blood sugar. Moving your body allows your body to do its job with more ease. The feeling of being full will dissipate and you can enjoy your festivities even more!
I wish everyone a BLESSED THANKSGIVING full of mindfulness and presence, joy and pleasure.