Happy Thanksgiving! Don’t you just love this holiday? There are so many special memories connected with it. But as a dieter, all of my fondest reminiscences of Thanksgiving seemed to revolve around food.

What Are You Really Hungry For?

Today I know that whenever I find myself overeating my real hunger isn’t for the food. It’s a hunger and a yearning for memories of times past. It’s our body’s way of asking food to do a bigger job. Think about what you’re asking  your Thanksgiving meal to do for you.

For years I didn’t realize that I couldn’t dig my way to happiness by shoveling down more food, so I ended up trying to recreate those wonderful moments of memories past, by overstuffing myself and having to be rolled away from the table.

The guilt and shame that followed would hang around for a week or more. Forget about it. Who am I kidding? It lasted throughout the whole holiday season, because I felt like such an out of control pig. And it took making my New Year Eve resolutions or a trip to Weight Watchers to absolve myself from my overeating sins.

Now I know that no matter how much of my precious Nana’s stuffing I eat, I’ll never be able to bring her back, so to remind myself that she’s always with me in spirit, I tend to want to fill my day with other things that remind me of my Nana and my other lost loved ones. Telling stories and talking about them at the dinner table and reminiscing is one of my favorite ways of keeping them close to my heart.

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff: And Overeating Is Small Stuff

On certain occasions, especially big holidays like Thanksgiving everyone tends to overeat. That’s no big deal. The most important thing to remember is not to compound your upset of overeating by making yourself feel miserable for doing it. Forgive yourself for overdoing it and let go.

Why Forgive?

There’s really nothing to forgive, because by overeating, you haven’t done anything wrong. You’re not a bad person. Let’s put some perspective on this. Okay? If you want to change the way that you relate to food so that you won’t always see food and want it, you have to level the playing field. That means that you have to start going within to make changes and learn how to feel safe around all the goodies. Your ability to feel safe around food is based upon your willingness to create more feelings of safety in your body and with your life.

http://static.typepad.com/.shared:v20121108.01-0-g91a35ff:typepad:en_us/tiny_mce/ It’s really a two step process, making peace with food and friends with your body–What’s important is the relationship that you forge with your body over time. By learning to treat yourself gently and lovingly, and discovering that you are not a slave to food, you will gradually appreciate and respect yourself more, and by doing that, it will enable your natural resistance to losing weight to melt like butter.

As a professional coach, I like to teach my clients how to get healthier without dieting. One of the best ways of learning how to do that is to reconnect with your body as often as possible and gauge how hungry you are. By eating in response to your body’s hunger, it will enable your body to gradually slim down and you’ll never have to experience the pain of dieting or deprivation again. It’s about recreating trust within yourself. Trusting yourself around a counter filled with cookies and trusting your body to listen to when you want to eat and when you don’t.

Here are a few ways to stay in touch with your natural hunger signals and honor your appetite so that you can enjoy Thanksgiving and every other day to the max:

1)    Eat regular meals throughout the day prior to eating your big holiday meal – Eat whatever you love throughout the whole day. Beware of the trap of the old diet mentality of saving up calories for the big meal. It’s truly the kiss of death. Eat when you’re hungry.

2)    Bring a take home container if you are going to someone else’s house

3)    Wear clothes that are comfortable yet able to keep you aware of subtle changes of how your body feels

4)    Wear something special that reminds you of how beautiful and empowered you are! – a special bracelet, necklace, shawl, a hair comb, or a scarf, whatever you love!

5)    Listen to some inspiring music or do something you love to set the tone for the day

6)    Tell yourself that you are going to have a wonderful Thanksgiving

7)    As you prepare to eat, take a few moments to look at the food – Remember to feast with all your senses

8)    Choose to put small portions of the foods on your plate that really curl your toes – you can always go back for more!

9)    Say a quiet prayer of thanks acknowledging all of the hands and all of the lives that have participated to bring this food to you

10)    Midway between the meal, slow down and ask yourself, “How satisfied am I and if I’m still hungry, What do I Really Want?”

11)    Pause in the middle of eating, to assess your level of hunger

12)    Take a sip of water and tune into that hunger

13)    Notice the eating habits of others around you – be curious and notice how far you’ve come!

14)    Engage with others at the table – really enjoy the experience

15)     Eat until you feel satisfied or feel a sigh coming on – notice the degree of satisfaction that you are getting from each bite

16)    Become aware of the well meaning and often loveable food pushers – Smile knowing that “you’ve got their number.”

17)     Express yourself honestly, lovingly and firmly – Say, “No thank you, _____, it was all so delicious.  I am satisfied, but I’ll take some to enjoy later.”

18)    When you’ve decided you’re satisfied, place your silverware on top of your plate, wipe your mouth with a napkin, place the napkin on top of the plate and move it to either your left or right side

19)    Make sure to leave room for dessert, if it is important to you. I love dessert. But since I usually have dessert type goodies at home, I probably won’t even want dessert that day. We’ll see.

20)    Acknowledge and thank yourself for having all this wonderful new awareness and committing to loving your body more and being gentle with yourself