Balancing Bounty: Navigating Thanksgiving Indulgence with Insight from a Dietician—Cautionary Tales of Unhealthy Eating Habits 2024-04-17 06:19:35

"Navigating Thanksgiving Indulgence: A Dietician's Insight on Unhealthy Eating Behaviors and Building a Healthy Food Relationship"

As Thanksgiving approaches, our complex relationships with food come to the forefront, often accompanied by unhealthy behaviors that may exacerbate the challenges many face. Amanda Holtzer, a registered dietitian based in New Jersey, emphasizes the heightened nature of these relationships during food-centric celebrations like Thanksgiving. Cultural significance tied to food can trigger negative emotions for those with complicated relationships with eating.

In the midst of pervasive diet culture and societal pressures, Holtzer advocates for a balanced perspective on indulging in holiday meals. Contrary to the fixations on what should or shouldn't be on our plates, she reassures that a day of festive eating won't significantly impact our bodies or health. "It is absolutely no big deal," she affirms, dispelling concerns about lasting weight gain or derailing progress.

However, the holiday season also brings forth unhealthy behaviors, some of which may border on disordered eating. Dr. Samantha DeCaro, Director of Clinical Outreach and Education at The Renfrew Center, explains that disordered eating exists on a spectrum, extending from clinical disorders to individuals with a healthy relationship with food. Many find themselves somewhere in the middle, grappling with behaviors such as restriction, binging, purging, and over-exercise.

Holtzer warns against the common practice of restricting meals before a significant holiday feast, as this often leads to ravenous hunger and subsequent overeating. The normalization and mislabeling of such behaviors as healthy can contribute to confusion, according to Dr. DeCaro. Recognizing these patterns and understanding that one doesn't need a diagnosed eating disorder to grapple with these issues is crucial in fostering a healthier relationship with food.

As Thanksgiving approaches, Holtzer and Dr. DeCaro's insights serve as a guide, encouraging a mindful and balanced approach to holiday indulgence while promoting a broader understanding of the spectrum of eating behaviors and their impact on our well-being.

"Navigating Healthy Relationships with Food: Breaking the Cycle of Disordered Behaviors During Thanksgiving"

Dr. Samantha DeCaro, Director of Clinical Outreach and Education at The Renfrew Center, delves into the intricate connection between disordered behaviors and the potential escalation into full-blown eating disorders. These behaviors, often surprising in their contribution, can perpetuate harmful cycles. Dr. DeCaro sheds light on the link between restricting and binge-eating disorder, emphasizing that denying oneself food during hunger can create a state of scarcity, both physically and psychologically, ultimately leading to episodes of binge eating.

To counteract these patterns, Amanda Holtzer, a registered dietitian based in New Jersey, provides practical advice for Thanksgiving festivities. She advocates for a balanced approach, recommending a high-protein breakfast and lunch or a snack if dinner is scheduled later in the day. Holtzer emphasizes the importance of not succumbing to the temptation to skip meals or restrict intake as a means of compensating for later indulgences.

The discussion extends to the psychological aspects of our relationship with food. Holtzer challenges the mindset of demonizing foods as "good" or "bad," urging a shift away from associating morality with what we eat. Acknowledging the multifaceted role of food in traditions, family, and culture, she cautions against attaching excessive emotional weight to it. Food, she emphasizes, should not wield such power over our emotions.

Dr. DeCaro adds another dimension by cautioning against comments about bodies or food choices during holiday gatherings. Well-intentioned compliments about appearance can inadvertently reinforce societal pressures on body image. Instead, she advocates shifting the focus to feelings and experiences, fostering a positive atmosphere devoid of guilt or anxiety surrounding food.

As Thanksgiving approaches, these insights serve as a guide to cultivating a healthier relationship with food, encouraging mindfulness, balance, and a supportive environment that extends beyond the dinner table.

"Empowering Responses: Navigating Unwanted Diet and Body Comments During Thanksgiving"

In the realm of fostering healthier relationships with food and bodies, Amanda Holtzer, a registered dietitian, extends practical advice on managing external influences, recognizing that controlling others' words is beyond our reach. Encouraging a departure from diet-centric conversations and body-focused language, Holtzer acknowledges the inevitability of encountering such comments, whether directed at oneself or others.

In response to unwarranted remarks, Holtzer advocates for setting boundaries or redirecting the conversation. For instance, if confronted with diet-related comments, she suggests steering the dialogue toward alternative topics, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing emotional well-being and comfort. "Remember what you need emotionally and what you feel comfortable doing to meet those needs," she advises, highlighting the significance of self-care in these situations.

Recognizing the broader challenges related to body image and eating concerns, Holtzer directs individuals to seek support from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). The organization's toll-free and confidential helpline (1-800-931-2237) is available for both phone and text communication, with additional assistance accessible through click-to-chat messaging at In crisis situations, individuals can text "NEDA" to 741-741 for immediate support.

As Thanksgiving approaches, Holtzer's guidance serves as a reminder that self-advocacy and emotional well-being take precedence in navigating conversations around food and bodies. In the pursuit of fostering a positive and supportive environment, individuals are empowered to redefine the dialogue and prioritize their mental health during holiday gatherings.

Sara Moniuszko, a health and lifestyle reporter at, contributes valuable insights to this discourse. Having previously written for USA Today, where she played a pivotal role in launching the newspaper's wellness vertical, Moniuszko now covers breaking and trending news for CBS News' HealthWatch. Her expertise adds a comprehensive layer to the discussion on navigating body image and eating concerns during holiday celebrations.

In conclusion, Amanda Holtzer's guidance on navigating unwanted diet and body comments during Thanksgiving underscores the importance of prioritizing emotional well-being and self-advocacy in fostering healthier relationships with food and our bodies. Recognizing that we cannot control the words of others, Holtzer empowers individuals to set boundaries and redirect conversations, emphasizing the significance of meeting emotional needs in these situations.

As we approach holiday gatherings where discussions around food and bodies may be heightened, Holtzer's advice serves as a reminder to focus on self-care and navigate conversations with intention. Her insights into steering away from diet-centric language and reframing dialogue contribute to creating a positive and supportive environment during Thanksgiving celebrations.

For those grappling with broader challenges related to body image or eating concerns, Holtzer directs attention to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) for confidential and supportive assistance. The toll-free helpline (1-800-931-2237) and click-to-chat messaging at offer accessible resources, while individuals facing crisis situations can find immediate support by texting "NEDA" to 741-741.

Sara Moniuszko's expertise, as a health and lifestyle reporter at, adds depth to the discussion. Her background in launching the wellness vertical at USA Today and current role in covering breaking and trending news for CBS News' HealthWatch enhances the comprehensive nature of the discourse on navigating body image and eating concerns during holiday gatherings. In embracing these insights, individuals can approach Thanksgiving with a renewed focus on mental health, self-empowerment, and the creation of a supportive and positive atmosphere.


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