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Eating disorders can make Thanksgiving difficult

St. Joseph News-Press - 11/21/2018

Nov. 21--Not everyone is looking forward to turkey, stuffing and pie Thursday.

According to information provided by the National Eating Disorders Association and various national surveys, 30 million people in America will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. And when it comes to a holiday primarily about excess, Thanksgiving isn't exactly the easiest time for a group struggling to maintain their symptoms.

"It's sort of an 'all-or-nothing' kind of thing: Either they're on their diet or their off their diet," Sarah Wood, a nutritionist and health education specialist at MU Extension, says of most people trying to lose weight around the holidays. "But people who have really struggled a lot with overeating, binge eating or even having an unhealthy relationship with food ... can certainly struggle around the holidays, especially when you have a family that's either not supportive or doesn't quite understand where you're coming from."

First things first, Wood goes on to say: Talk to your family or friends about your struggles. Tell them the holidays are especially challenging in this regard, and let them know you're trying to stay healthy by taking smaller portions. Talk with the cook(s) and let them know that your situation is by no means a slight against them or their food; you're doing what's best for you.

Wood suggests filling a plate moderately with fruits and vegetables, as well as some of the holiday classics such as turkey, stuffing and maybe a pastry. Portion control is your ally; you can eat whatever you'd like as long as you focus on how much space a particular food occupies on your plate.

That being said, Wood says it's important to re-evaluate your relationship with your meals if you tend to think of some foods as "bad."

"For a lot of people, some of those less-healthy items become the 'bad foods' -- the ones that you feel you shouldn't eat," she says. "When we do go and eat them, we have this sense of guilt over eating them. That kind of gets you into that sort of bad relationship with food. There are no bad foods."

She says while some foods aren't as healthy for us, it's our habit of eating them in excess that causes trouble.

So in the end, enjoy Thanksgiving by focusing on good portions. Don't fill your plate entirely and go back for seconds if you feel inclined. Take time to make sure that the healthier foods are crowding your plate more than the unhealthy ones.

Daniel Cobb can be reached


Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowCobb.


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