The holidays are swiftly approaching, and they can be stress-inducing. Thanksgiving specifically, originated from conflicting sides coming together to celebrate the harvest. And although the Thanksgiving cornucopia remains a symbol of peace, gratitude, sharing and coming together, when you are plus-sized, the goodwill associated with the holiday may feel as though it isn’t extended to you. It might start with Aunt Juniper side-eyeing your plate, or Grandma shouting about you taking BOTH potatoes and yams, or maybe it’s Uncle Fred mentioning your hearty appetite. You may say to yourself, “Why even bother showing up to a holiday about gratitude when I don’t even get to enjoy my first bite without feeling judged?!”
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The first thing we want to emphasize is that you are experiencing something very real. Because conflict at Thanksgiving dinner often involves family relationships, we tend to want to brush it aside or bypass what it does to us emotionally. Dealing with reality is a necessary step to assessing a situation. Microaggressions about food happen all the time. If you are honest about this, then you can prepare accordingly to handle anything that comes your way.
Set Boundaries Between Family & Your Holiday Meal
Setting boundaries is tough with people you’ve known your entire life, but in the long run, it will be the most empowering thing you can do for yourself. Whether you are on a food plan that has restrictions, or you are letting go of food obsession and eating whatever you please, drawing lines around bad behavior towards your choices provides you the freedom of knowing where you stand with others. If you prepare for the worst, you can be pleasantly surprised when the worst never comes. This may mean bringing your own food to a dinner or making sure you don’t sit next to a relative that can’t help but share their opinion if you have a second helping of stuffing (because it’s frigging delicious!). If you plan ahead to avoid emotional triggers, you are more likely to have the experience you desire at the table.
Stand Your Ground & Stick to Your Plate
You get to control how you react to any situation. Being honest about what triggers you and breaking the pattern of responding in a self-defeating way when triggered, can completely transform your holiday for the better. A typical response to a comment about what’s on our plate is to justify what we’re eating, or why we’re eating what we want. Permit yourself to do it just because you want to. There is no need to rationalize a full plate by saying “It’s my cheat day,” or “I’ve been eating really clean this week so I can eat today.” Don’t set yourself up for this holiday overeating trap. You get to eat what you want because you want to eat it. No defense needed. There is a strength in sitting in the light of positivity even amidst the greatest shade. Make an active decision to meet negative comments with only kindness and bask in the power of that. If you feel like you need to say something maybe try, “Oh, I’ve always loved Aunt Juniper’s yams, and I look forward to eating them every year!” Often, when you can respond with love, the judgment tends to go away.
Ultimately remember that whatever someone says or does reflects more on them, than it does on you. Make the choice to live your life with happiness and thanksgiving in your heart and in your belly.
Actor/influencers Kathy Deitch and Eva Tingley spearheaded PlusThis!, the multimedia brand which features pop-culture, fashion, debates regarding food and health and the societal negativity and stereotypes that surround women who dare to take up a little bit of space. The duo broadcasts live every Thursday at 6 pm PT from Universal Broadcasting Network and simultaneously across several platforms including Facebook Live and YouTube Live.
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