Planning a Mindful Thanksgiving

Why I don’t feel thankful at Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving conjures up images of model-like families sitting around picturesque tables with an exquisitely cooked turkey and soft music playing in the background. This has NEVER been my Thanksgiving experience, so I’m not sure where this idea snuck into my mind as a standard for this holiday. The Sears catalogue maybe?

Somewhere along the way, this pressure has built to make it an Instagram-worthy photoshoot.  Matching napkin rings, homemade centerpieces, a gourmet meal (straight from the farm or garden, of course), and fashionably dressed children. None of these things are bad, but none should be the standard of a successful Thanksgiving. Yet I somehow still strive for this—and none of it helps me be more thankful, because that’s not me.

We often talk about mindfulness in relation to food. “Be mindful of how hungry or full you are,” “be mindful when choosing your favourite treat,” “be mindful of drinking your calories,” and so on.  What if, in addition to food mindfulness, we were mindful about how this holiday really makes you feel?

I have come to realize I am not a foodie. If the food is hot and flavourful, I love it. Yet I will still spend hours on beautiful Pinterest recipes that most likely fail and bring me zero joy. I am NOT grateful for my soggy balsamic green beans or runny pale gravy. I’m apologizing for them.

What does bring me joy is the fresh crisp fall air and the changing colours of the leaves, or curling up under blankets and reading stories to my nieces and nephews. Those are the things I LOVE and what my all-time favourite memories are made of.

Raina dietitan thanksgiving

Knowing yourself is so critical to truly be grateful this Thanksgiving. If you love experimenting in the kitchen and bringing your favourite dishes to a new level, please do! If you have a love for the outdoors, plan an outside activity for everyone. Or maybe try something completely different and volunteer to serve dinner at a local nonprofit to bring you joy as well as a new perspective. Do not try and be someone you are not, because in my experience, I only catch myself comparing my pictures, food and decorations to Pinterest—I could truly start my own fail blog.

For me, the whole purpose of Thanksgiving is to be together with people who are important to me, to stop and reflect, to practice gratitude, and to really take in a full appreciation of our wealth and blessings. We live in Canada: we are blessed no matter what our income.

Reflect on what is important to you and the things that top your list to make it a joyful holiday.  If you are true to yourself, your strengths, and your gifts, gratitude for who you are and what you have flows very easily.  And that’s the whole point of this wonderful celebration.


By Raina Beugelink – Registered Nutritionist/Dietitian

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