Nicole Mesita

Reclaiming Thanksgiving from Diet Culture

Nicole Mesita
Reclaiming Thanksgiving from Diet Culture

Imagine this: It’s thanksgiving. You are all sitting around the table enjoying great conversation and delicious food. Your mom says, “Oh these mashed potatoes are so bad for me. I need to stop eating them.” And your aunt says, “Don’t even make the mistake of trying it with the gravy, it’s sinful!” Your uncle says, “No vegetables for me today, that’s all I will be eating once I start my diet tomorrow.” Dinner is ending and everyone is talking about how uncomfortable and full they are. People are commenting, “Ugh, I ate way too much, I think I will need a forklift to get me out of here,” and “ Yes so did I, and I will feel even worse and more guilty after I eat this slice of pie.”

Sound familiar? Most families are this way. But let me ask you this: Which family dinner would you rather be sitting at - one that is filled with positive and grateful hearts enjoying and celebrating the amazing feast? Or the one that is negative and focuses on all the “bad food?”’

I don’t know about you, but I have come to dread Thanksgiving dinner for this very reason. I’ve grown tired of hearing people talk about how full and uncomfortable they are.

Here are a few reasons why you can live in freedom this thanksgiving meal:

Thanksgiving is just another meal - it is not your last supper. You can make Thanksgiving food on other days of the year. And even better - you get the opportunity to bring lots of leftovers home to eat the rest of the week! There’s freedom in knowing that you can save that food and eat it later.

Now, I am not saying that I never overeat on Thanksgiving. I am in no way saying that being full is a bad thing, especially on Thanksgiving. It’s a reason to celebrate food. But if the fruit of your fullness is feelings of guilt and shame, that is not unto the Lord.

When food gets classified as “good” and “bad” at the dinner table, those words can be very triggering for individuals who struggle with food and body image. Think about your niece who just came home from college. What if you didn’t know that she’s been dealing with a raging eating disorder? That comment that you just made could have caused her some major anxiety.

We must change Thanksgiving culture. We must bring it back to the roots of the intention. We must focus on the joy of eating a delicious meal with all the people we love and being thankful for God’s goodness and blessings this year. The verse that I think of that makes the true meaning of Thanksgiving very clear to me is Acts 2:46:

They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.

Beloved, “glad and sincere hearts”!!

I don’t know when this happened or how long it has been happening for, but it’s typical of American culture to go into Thanksgiving with the “diet” or “last supper mentality” - to eat until we’re uncomfortably full, and then start that diet on Black Friday.

I get it, your family dynamics aren’t great. All the women in your family have been on every weight loss program in the book. Weight is always a topic of conversation, and it’s common for you to hear, “Oh they look so good, they lost a bunch of weight,” or, “Oh they gained a bunch of weight.” But I pray and hope that in the name of Thanksgiving that we can all choose to rise and practice what Thanksgiving was intended for - to acknowledge and count our blessings.

This is my prayer for you and you family’s Thanksgiving this year. If you give a blessing, please feel free to use this for part of your prayer. I pray that it gives you and your family freedom.

Lord we come to you today so thankful for all the blessings you’ve entrusted us with this year. We thank you for health and for our bodies. Thank you for crafting our bodies in such a way that you’ve designed them with hunger and fullness signals so that we know and recognize when to start eating and when to stop. I pray that we are aware of those signals today. Please bless this food that we are about to eat. We are thankful for the ones that prepared it. Let it be nourishing to our bodies. Amen. 

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at BodyBLoved

Nicole resides in the East Bay Area where she works in private practice as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She is a new Mom and serves alongside her beloved husband in their local church. She completed both her bachelors degree and her dietetic internship at California State University, Chico, where she was also a NCAA cross country and track athlete. Through those experiences, God prompted her to help people of all shapes and sizes discover body peace and acceptance through the unconditional love of Jesus. Nicole most enjoys spending time around a table and cooking for the people she loves.