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Thanksgiving Through the Diet Culture Lens

There are so many things that come to mind when thinking of Thanksgiving: family, pie, little elementary school hand turkeys, your dad yelling at the football game, and the one who is worrying about holiday weight gain the entire meal.

A couple things led me here. One, a quick google search for “Thanksgiving diet.” Website after website of guides on how to enjoy the holidays on a diet, how to “survive” everyone around you divulging in carbs and sugar. Barely anyone talks about why this may be negative.

The second thing brings me back all the way to the early 2010’s in those tender elementary school years, listening to the local radio on the bus ride to school, where I was ready to learn about a glossed over first Thanksgiving dinner and create a turkey themed paper craft to bring home to my mom. The radio hosts were talking about what to avoid on Thanksgiving. You were allowed to eat some turkey, given it’s high protein, the vegetables, obviously, but nothing else. In the age where I could eat whatever I wanted, I didn’t really think about why potatoes, stuffing, pie, or bread would be bad. But, that information was now in my head and has been every Thanksgiving into my adulthood.

So, why does a holiday that practically revolves around food hate it so much? The only answer is the toxic diet culture that surrounds our lives and makes (mostly) women feel bad for practically everything they do simply for not fitting into the ever changing and near impossible standard of beauty.

Watching everyone joke about how “fat” they’ll get over the holidays and how much they overate conflict with the baradement of every recipe or health blog screaming at you for keeping your diet over the holidays is certainly a lot for anyone, especially anyone who has grown up concerned with their weight and battling their body.

Eating Disorder Hope says that there are ways to manage dieting and diet talk at Thanksgiving dinner, such as setting boundaries, listening to your body, and focusing on more enjoyable aspects of Thanksgiving like friends and family.

There’s not necessarily anything wrong with wanting to avoid the more unhealthier foods present at the Thanksgiving table because the problem lies with the societal, sometimes even familial, shame that comes with these foods and having the audacity to want them.

As the holiday season comes closer, as a nosy, unchecked aunt snides at you for eating too much or too little, as the holiday becomes more about stress than family, the toxic diet culture and the stress around holiday meals is something that needs to be thought about more this Thanksgiving.

Madison Reinhold is a sophomore majoring in journalism at MSU. When she isn't studying, she spends her time pursuing her own creative writing, keeping up on current events, and falling down endless Wikipedia rabbit holes.
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