Guilt-Free Thanksgiving Feast

November 22, 2023
| Created by Hannah Casey, RDN, CD

This blog was written by BYU dietetic intern, Lila Neerings.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Usually, this means a large feast filled with delicious food. However, does the thought of eating turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, pie, and other desserts excite you or does it fill you with anxiety 

Enjoying a big Thanksgiving meal is certainly not a crime, but some people may feel guilty afterward. It is time to break this cycle and to genuinely enjoy Thanksgiving—and any other mealwithout any guilt! To do this, try implementing the principles of intuitive eating: 

1. Reject the diet mentality

Maybe you label Thanksgiving as a “cheat meal” and feel the need to diet before and after? Unfortunately, this may cause an unhealthy preoccupation and relationship with food. Instead, view this meal like any other normal meal during the year.  

2. Honor your hunger

When we restrict food and ignore our hunger cues, we often end up overeating later which can cause uncomfortable feelings. Remember that there is no need to skip breakfast to “save your calories” for your Thanksgiving meal. Eat when you are hungry! 

3. make peace with food

Food is a wonderful way to connect with those around us and enjoy time together. Giving yourself permission to indulge is nothing to feel bad about! Give yourself permission to eat what you enjoy and however much your body needs to be satisfied.  

4. Challenge the food police

If you find yourself thinking your value is tied to the food you eat, remember you are not “good” for avoiding carbs on Thanksgiving and you are not “bad” for putting butter on your rolls. Food doesn’t hold any moral value over you!  

5. Discover the satisfaction factor

Use this holiday season as an opportunity to connect with your body and practice mindful eating. Pay attention to the taste and texture of your favorite dishes. Notice how your body reacts to each bite and eat until you are satisfied! 

6. Feel your fullness

Trust your body to let you know when you have eaten enough. If you do eat past being comfortably full and end up feeling sick, use this as a learning moment and move on to other enjoyable activities with your family and friends.  

7. Cope with your emotions with kindness

The holidays are filled with lots of emotions. If you find yourself eating to cope with your emotions, find other ways to comfort yourself. Try going on a short walk, meditation, or a breathing exercise 

8. Respect your body

Remember that you and your body deserve dignity and respect, regardless of your shape or size You can show this by wearing clothing that fits well, is comfortable, and not too tight. Remember to talk to yourself like you would talk to a friend, kindly! 

9. Movement – feel the difference

Exercise should be an enjoyable activity, not something you need to do to burn the extra calories that you ingested. Try to move your body just for the sake of moving and pay attention to how you feel. You could go on a walk before or after enjoying your Thanksgiving meal. 

10. Honor your health – gentle nutrition

This one Thanksgiving meal will not have a major impact on your body composition or overall healthpositive or negative. It’s all about balance, so eating a slice, or two, of pie on Thanksgiving will not do you any harm.  

This Thanksgiving, approach any emotions surrounding food with these principles of intuitive eating. You’ve got this! 

To learn more about intuitive eating and how to implement these principles in your life, email us at