turkey on table

Should You Eat Before You Feast on Thanksgiving?

should you eat before you feast on thanksgiving?

Although it’s seemingly become normal to wait to eat until the big feast on Thanksgiving, this may not be the smartest idea.  



why do people wait to eat on thanksgiving?

The main reason many people wait to eat on Thanksgiving is rooted in diet culture.  People think they need to “save” calories for the big meal, which means waiting to consume anything until the feast is ready.

This happens with many holidays – and also in daily life – because diet culture has taught us that we need to “earn” our food or “save up” calories if we’re planning to eat a big meal.

Unfortunately, this thought process is so ingrained in us that it can be extremely difficult to unlearn.  But it is possible!

If you find yourself thinking things like, “I need to wait to eat,” or “I need to do an extra workout this morning because I’m going to eat so much at dinner,” this is a sign you need to re-evaluate your unhealthy thought process about food.

Living with an unhealthy mindset around food, exercise, and your body can cause many consequences – both long and short-term.

what are the consequences of waiting to eat?

If you are making yourself wait to eat, or forcing yourself to workout extra hard to “earn” your dinner, there can be some major – and minor – consequences.

For one, you are sure to get hangry if you are not feeding yourself when your body needs it.  And who wants to be hangry on Thanksgiving??  Not me!

If you’re hangry, you will be more irritable, cranky, and no fun to be around.  Don’t spend this special day being miserable solely because you don’t want to eat before the big meal.

Another consequence of this negative type of thinking is that you may be more likely to overeat until you’re uncomfortable later on.  

Of course, it’s okay to overeat – everyone does it.  But overeating to the point of discomfort and possible pain is not fun.  And if your stomach is completely empty for most of the day leading up to your big meal, it’s much easier to reach that point of pain and discomfort.

And of course, a major consequence of this type of thinking is that it can become an extremely unhealthy pattern.  

If you always believe that you have to earn food, save up calories for a big meal, or anything else diet culture tells us we must do… you are way more likely to deal with disordered eating and/or an eating disorder at some point in your life.

In fact, binge-eating disorder (the most common eating disorder) is  more likely to occur in someone who is always restricting their food intake in one way or another.  

what should we do instead?

hot chocolate in mugsListen to your body!  Just like we drink water when we’re thirsty, we need to eat when our body is telling us it’s hungry.  It doesn’t matter when you last ate, when your next meal will be ready… if you’re hungry, show your body some love by giving it what it’s asking for.

And stop spreading messages that are deeply rooted in diet culture.  Stop spreading the lies that we need to “earn” our food and “save up” calories for a big meal.  No one needs to do either of those things; we are all deserving of food because we need it to survive and thrive.

This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to challenge the diet culture messages that are so deeply rooted in society and our minds.  Eat something before the big meal (if you’re hungry) so that you can fully enjoy the day with your loved ones. 

And remember that your body is the least interesting thing about you. (:

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  1. Love this reminder! I agree that society enjoys the notion of saving your appetite for the “big meal” but it can definitely bring on the overeating when finally at the table…a clean meal and/or healthy snack is the way to go for me!

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