As Thanksgiving approaches, I have become keenly aware of the worry the holiday season is creating for clients, friends and family. I have been pondering the problem for days and I am proud to say I have finally hit on the THE ANSWER for alleviating some of their anxiety. The secret to having a guilt free holiday is…..

Stop feeling guilty.

I have been frustrated in recent weeks with the plethora of “guilt free” holiday recipes and infographics depicting how many miles you have to run or minutes you have to exercise to burn off a piece of pumpkin pie. When did a holiday that began as a celebration of NOT starving to death and giving thanks for the bounty we have become overtaken about the idea that we need to deprive ourselves and feel ashamed for a big home cooked meal with those we love?

It is ONE day. It is ONE meal. It does not have the power to destroy.

I am all about keeping it as real as possible. I am pro eating with awareness. I advocate thinking about what you eat and how it affects your body. Guilt should not be a part of making healthy decisions. Guilt is about shame and punishment. None of these things has a place in balanced lifestyle and building a healthy relationship with food.

I want you to accept you will eat more than usual on Thanksgiving. I want you to not feel bad about enjoying things you don’t eat every day if they are TRULY treats. I want you to have fun with your family, being active together if you can. The day after is just another day. (Unless you’re Black Friday shopping, then pack your protein bars and plenty of water). Resume normal activities. Go back to your meal plan, your workout and hopefully an extra day off work.

Don’t hit the treadmill for an extra 30 minutes as punishment for the stuffing. Don’t schedule yourself for TWO spin classes to “pay for” what you did the day before. Exercise for the health of it, the joy of it and because it’s WHAT YOU DO in a fit life.

You still have time to make your peace with it, which I know may be hard. After years of trying to find a “clean” pumpkin pie that tastes just as good as Grandma’s or a way to make faux mashed potatoes where you really “can’t tell the difference”, letting go of the guilt may be a challenge. You can find balance by roasting up some Brussels sprouts to get your greens. You can make a decision to use a measuring cup to get the proper portion of stuffing, but have the stuffing if you really love it. Enjoy the butter on that homemade roll! It will be okay when the day is done. The damage will be minimal.

Creating a new healthy life does require creating some new traditions. Some things will change about how you celebrate the holidays but if it’s truly special, if you look forward to it all year, then enjoy it. Guilt doesn’t have a place in a healthy life. Awareness does. Guilt has no place in this season of thanks, gratitude and giving. Practice love and kindness to everyone, including yourself.

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