Huffpost Women
Margaret Wheeler Johnson Headshot

Thanksgiving Food Fears: How To Cope With Holiday Eating Stress

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Americans are arguably programmed to overeat on Thanksgiving, yet most people seem to emerge from the experience relatively unscathed.

There's something giddy and mischievous and basically harmless about breaking the rules at this one annual meal, something comfortingly communal and vaguely Roman about the food coma into which the whole family descends. You can resume your usual levels of intake the next day. Good time had by all, no real damage done.

And then there are those who will probably overeat but won't really enjoy it -- or really won't enjoy it. Because of the food and weight issues that worry most American women at least peripherally, it's a safe guess that many of those simultaneously feasting and loathing themselves for it -- or not eating to avoid that self-loathing -- will be female.

It shouldn't be this way, right? Why is it so hard to treat Thanksgiving like an average dinner party, eating what you're comfortable with, leaving what you're not, focusing more on those around you than the contents of your plate? Why on this particular occasion should the meal consume you (rather than vice versa)? It's just food, right?

Right.

Because that idea is especially hard to believe, much less act upon, on Thanksgiving, The Huffington Post talked to Evelyn Tribole, practicing dietitian and author of the book "Intuitive Eating."

"Food has become so scary these days, where people are afraid it's going to kill you or make you sad," Tribole says, but there are ways to get around those fears.

"It's a good idea to go into the holiday with specific strategies for reducing that anxiety," Tribole says. "It's the specifics that can make the difference. The bottom line is, you want to be enjoying yourself, you want to have a good time."

Here are 12 tips from Tribole on how to handle food anxiety around the holidays:

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How do you cope with food anxiety around the holidays? If you've found a strategy that really works, please share in the comments below.

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