Sometimes healthy is the enemy of happy.

I’m not arguing against a healthy Thanksgiving. I’m just saying that, sometimes, prioritizing healthy is the wrong way to go. If you have to choose between a healthy and a happy Thanksgiving, choose happy. Happy makes better memories.

You’re making memories for your children. If you’re fighting with them, then they’re fighting with you. And the fight will be (at least part of) the memory.

And if grandparents secretly stuff your kids with sweets, that’ll be part of their memory too.

Recently I asked members of my FB group, The Happy Bite Parents Network, to vote on their biggest Thanksgiving concerns. Not surprisingly, the #1 response was, children wouldn’t eat any “real” food.  When you add in the parents who fear their children will eat too many sweets & treats, and those who anticipate that grandparents will (sometimes secretly) dole out additional treats, that pretty much sums it up: There is a strong desire for a healthy, or even healthy-ish, Thanksgiving.

Now, I did not ask votes to indicate how strong their concerns are. So let me make this perfectly clear: I am not assuming anyone is losing sleep over the Healthy vs Happy Thanksgiving dilemma. I also want to be clear that I’m not making light of, or dismissing anyone’s concerns. My goal is to relieve the stress by shifting the goals.

I’m sure that I’ve missed some categories and some nuances, but this Happy Thanksgiving-ometer is meant to represent an idea. Don’t take it literally.

The ideal happy  – kids eat well without a struggle. In some families (ok, most families) that hardly ever happens. As healthy eating declines, arguing rises. So pick the point on the Happy Thanksgiving-ometer that’s realistic in terms of happy. Let the rest go.

Does it matter if your kids eat nothing but sweets on Thanksgiving?

Not really. Is it ideal? Not really. But let’s put it in a bigger context. The principle of proportion works two ways.

  1. Daily Proportion: Eat healthy food most frequently over the course of the meal and the day.
  2. Big Picture Proportion:  Eat healthy food most frequently over time.

Big Picture Proportion is the skill kids need to enjoy a lifetime of healthy eating that includes a lifetime of Happy Thanksgivings as well.

That’s my hope for parents too. Happy Thanksgiving.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~