I want you to know that you don't have to do any of this, and you don't have to choose between gaining weight and participating in holiday meals with your family.
First, let's get something straight. The reason people gain weight over the holidays is not the food. It's not the dressing, it's not the cranberry sauce, it's not even the gravy. The issue isn't the food; it's the attitude we have about the food.
Look at the way we treat traditional holiday food. We only get to have it once, maybe twice a year. It's special. Still, we regard it as "not okay" because so often we gain weight when we eat it. But what happens when you tell yourself you shouldn't have something, and then have it anyway? The wheels come off, right?
The problem isn't that we eat holiday food; it's that we binge on it. We eat until we're so full we need a nap, and then we wake up and eat some more. We make jokes about stretchy pants (and rightly so, because stretchy pants jokes are funny). We binge on all this special magical food that only comes once a year that we're not supposed to eat, and then our fear of weight gain is reinforced because...well, because we gained weight. Or maybe you just stared longingly at all that food but didn't dare eat it, then in January triumphantly announced that you didn't gain weight over the holidays. You might've been sad and cranky and hungry and no one wanted to be around you because you weren't any fun, but you didn't gain weight, dammit!
I dare you to try something different this year. My challenge to you is to allow yourself to eat whatever you want this holiday season. Don't think about it, don't agonize over whether you should or shouldn't, don't put a value judgment on it- just eat it. There's only one catch: you have to stop eating when you're not hungry anymore, and you can't eat when you're not hungry.
I know this is both a scary concept and also easier said than done. If you need to, use a smaller plate to help yourself get less to start with. If you are still hungry, you can always go get more. This also means you will have to eat slowly enough to be able to register when you're no longer hungry (which takes about 20 minutes). If someone offers you a treat when you're not hungry, you can say no or you can accept it and save it for later. Keep in mind that you can have this food anytime you want, so you don't have to treat it like your last meal. They sell both turkey and Tofurkey all year long, I promise. You can make pumpkin pie in March if you want to. The only reason we only have this food once a year is because we only make this food once a year. That doesn't mean you have to eat it all now; it will always be available to you. Remind yourself of that if you are tempted to keep eating past the point of comfortable, pleasant fullness. To reassure yourself, you can even make a separate plate (or several) to take home and freeze for later. There is no need to eat until it hurts, and doing so only takes away your enjoyment of the delicious food you're eating.
This holiday season, I want you to stop torturing yourself. Enjoy your food, enjoy yourself, and enjoy your family. This time of year can be stressful enough without fighting or berating yourself. I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving next week followed by a lovely December, regardless of what or if you celebrate then. May your meals be delicious and your pants be stretchy- but only because stretchy pants are comfortable.