Holiday guilt: Helpful or harmful to your post-feast diet?


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It’s easy to overindulge at your Thanksgiving feast. Maybe you chose mashed potatoes over green beans, or two pieces of pie instead of one. The feeling of guilt comes naturally — the problem is where the guilt will take us.

We often scold ourselves, believing it will help restore our healthy habits. But is feeling guilty actually harming your health?

A study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology reported that individuals who indulged without guilt were less likely to continue unhealthy eating habits. And if they had feelings of self-compassion, individuals had less stress and felt less restrained regarding eating habits. If you’re feeling guilty after your holiday indulgence, remind yourself that one day of food and family isn’t the end of the world. Shedding guilt could mean shedding pounds!


Try these tips for avoiding holiday guilt that could lead to more unhealthy eating:

  1. If you normally track your food intake, give yourself a day off for family time — just eat until you’re full.
  2. Savor your meal. It’s not every day you get to enjoy home-cooked dishes, so make each one count by eating slowly and appreciating it.
  3. When you eat leftovers, remember it’s not Thanksgiving all over again; choose one or two things instead of recreating your feast-day plate.
  4. Reinvent your leftovers — make turkey into a salad topper or combine it with veggies for a soup or stew. If you’re looking for ideas, try HellaWella’s top 11 healthy ways to eat your leftover turkey.