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Your Thanksgiving Dinner Bill of Rights

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving! I posted this last year but thought it was important to reshare as we head into Thanksgiving tomorrow. Wishing you a happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving with family. 

If you’ve read Intuitive Eating, maybe you are aware of the Intuitive Eater’s Holiday Bill of Rights.

Either way, I’m going to share the principles and some examples for how you can apply them to your Thanksgiving tomorrow. The bottom line is to approach it with curiosity, NOT judgment, and to enjoy the whole experience that it has to offer.

Remember, this holiday is a lot more than just food. When we boil it down to food only, we are putting an extreme hyper-focus on food, which means we’re taking attention away from the other more important parts.

These principles can help guide you when you feel yourself feeling stressed or hyper-focused. It can also help with relatives who may force food, or share their opinions about what and how you should eat.

1. You have the right to savor your meal, without cajoling or judgment, and without discussion of calories eaten or the amount of exercise needed to burn off said calories.

If someone starts talking about calories or needing to exercise tomorrow to burn them off, you have the right to ignore them. You don’t have to respond.

If you do chose to respond, you can let them know that your body knows how to use the energy provided, and you choose not to think about food in terms of calories. As we know, food is so much more and dumbing it down to calories is taking away some of the best parts of the eating experience. 

There is no room for food guilt at the Thanksgiving table.


2. You have the right to enjoy second servings without apology.

Fill up your plate with what you like! Eat extra mashed potatoes and stuffing if that’s what you love.

Skip the veggies if they don’t sound appetizing. No one can tell you what a right plate looks like (it doesn’t exist), so eat more of what you like and want.

And you can skip what you don’t.

3. You have the right to honor your fullness, even if that means saying “no thank you” to dessert or a second helping of food.

We put so much pressure on ourselves leading up to Thanksgiving. We tell ourselves that we’re going to walk away from the table feeling like a 9 or 10 on the Hunger Scale.

Basically, feeling extremely full and sick. It is okay to eat past our fullness, but it’s also okay to stop before we get to that point.

If you’ve come to the place in your relationship with food where you understand you can eat more tomorrow if you so choose, then maybe it’s easier for you to stop when you feel full and satisfied. And it’s okay to miss the mark, too.


4. It is not your responsibility to make someone happy by overeating, even if it took hours to prepare a specialty holiday dish.

If people try forcing seconds upon you, you can politely thank them for the food they prepared while saying no in a nice way.

Some examples may be:

  • I really appreciate all the time you put into that dish and I would really love to enjoy it when I have room for it. Will you save me some for tomorrow? 
  • I’ve reached my maximum for right now, and if I don’t get a chance to try it later, I would love to have some tomorrow.
  • It looks delicious and I can tell how much work you put into this dish, so maybe I’ll try some later or tomorrow.
  • No, thank you (simple but to the point!)


5. You have the right to say, “No thank you,” without explanation, when offered more food.

If you’re someone who feels compelled to always offer an explanation, maybe it’s a great chance to keep it short and sweet. Sometimes, “no thank you,” is the easiest option, without feeling like you have to offer more information about why you’re saying no.

Honor and respect your body and know when to say no. While it may seem that you are hurting someone’s feelings, you are utilizing some self-care by listening to your body.


6. You have the right to stick to your original answer of “no”, even if you are asked multiple times.

Just calmly and politely repeat “No, thank you, really.”


7. You have the right to eat pumpkin pie for breakfast.

Well, you always have this right, but I feel that it’s always important to emphasize over the holidays. You can eat pumpkin pie whenever you want!

Yes, you can have it for breakfast, lunch and dessert if you so please. There should be no rules dictating how you choose to eat this Thanksgiving.

You have the right to eat the food you want, without feeling like you need to find a replacement.

You have permission to do you. 

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

What is your favorite part of Thanksgiving? What are you most looking forward to?

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  1. Love this!! I do all of the cooking, so when it’s time for the actual meal, I’m too exhausted to eat much 😉 That being said, it’s a day I look forward to foods we only have on Thanksgiving and that makes it all worth it.

  2. All of these are SO Good and so true; it’s ok and good to honor your own fullness. I did find myself kind of comparing my fullness at a few times during Thanksgiving day, but I had to remind myself that I felt comfortable, happy, and satisfied, so I didn’t need to compare at all. 🙂

  3. YES! I love this! I really agree with this whole mindset…I need to read the book. I’m very sure it’s exactly how I think about food…I think! Well, either way, thanks for the reminders. Can’t wait to enjoy family time and yummy food! Hope you and your family has a great day tomorrow!!

  4. So beautifully said Sarah and how wonderful to hear your words! A very special Thanksgiving to you and your sweet family! A first for Cam and so many more to look forward to sharing with her! ???warmly, Pamela