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Feeling "Thanksgiving Full"

Updated: Dec 4, 2019

I haven't written a blog post since 2016. Three years! I stopped writing blog posts because Instagram became the primary way I connected with my followers, and I felt that people wanted immediate access to content without having to "click" their way to it. And to an extent I think that was true, but I thought that was still the case now, and it seems I was wrong. Blogs are back (maybe they never left?), and with Thanksgiving week here, I felt compelled to write a full post instead of smaller ones on Instagram.

Thanksgiving has naturally been a popular topic with my patients and clients this week, and I wanted to share three main takeaways from the discussions I've had with them in order to help you feel as positive as possible - both physically and mentally - during the holiday.


It's okay if you get fuller than usual tomorrow. Like, even uncomfortably full.

There tends to be a lot of guilt associated with feeling excessively full. But, if you're celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, it's natural (to be frank, it's expected) that you'll feel particularly full as the day goes on. In a discussion with my patients yesterday using the Hunger and Satiety scale (see below), I admitted that I'm not even going to try and kid myself and say that I'm going to "stop" when "hunger is definitely gone" (level 7) because that's not realistic for me. Simply, this is my gentle reminder to you that if you eat beyond fullness to the point of feeling so stuffed, IT'S OKAY. You won't be alone in this feeling (in fact, I'll probably be right there with you).

However, with that said...

You can help avoid feeling uncomfortably full if you want to.

Feeling "Thanksgiving full...maybe even painful" (level 10 on the scale) doesn't have to be inevitable. You can help reduce the likelihood of feeling this way by doing a couple of things:

1) Eat during the day. Skipping breakfast and/or lunch before Thanksgiving dinner makes it much more likely that you eat way beyond fullness. Look at the scale below. Starting off at one end of the scale increases the likelihood of ending up way at the other end of the scale. Generally speaking (like, not on Thanksgiving), you want to stay closer to the middle, between a 3/4 and 6/7 or 8. And while a 6 or 7 isn't necessarily realistic for tomorrow, going into the meal at a level 0, 1, or even 2 decreases mindfulness and increases ravenous-ness (which I've officially just made a word), bringing you quickly to a level 9 and above on the scale.

2) Be choosy. There are lots of different dishes and desserts, but eating something just because it's there is very different from eating something because you truly want to. So I encourage you to bring mindfulness not just to how you feel physically, but also to what you're in the mood to eat. A wonderful dietitian I've connected with, Rachael Hartley, posted last year about "taste hunger," and the concept came up today with a patient of mine. It's the idea of satisfying a hunger that isn't necessarily physical, but is actually more about a want for a certain flavor or food. I have a feeling that tomorrow, a lot of us may satisfy our physical hunger long before we satisfy our taste hunger, but when going back for seconds or choosing dishes you haven't tried yet, think about what you truly want to taste versus "getting it in because it's there" (or, as the cool kids say, because of FOMO). Not only will this help reduce the chances of feeling totally, uncomfortably stuffed, it will also make what you do eat more enjoyable because it's what you really want.

The power of leftovers is real.

I LOVE leftovers. For so many reasons.

1) They mean additional rounds of yumminess.

2) They foster the beautiful concept of allowance, i.e., you're allowed to eat Thanksgiving food on days OTHER THAN Thanksgiving.

3) They prevent the "Last Supper" mentality, which is the need to keep eating because you believe you won't be able to eat these foods again.

Remind yourself tomorrow that leftovers are an option. And if you're not somewhere where you can actually take leftovers, remember that, technically speaking, Thanksgiving isn't the only day you can eat these foods. You can always go buy a box of stuffing from the store, get mashed potatoes, or make a pumpkin pie.


If you're celebrating tomorrow, I wish you a day filled with love and delicious food.

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