Today, the day after Thanksgiving, is my favorite day of the year! Yet, it’s also one of the hardest days of the year for those of us who struggle with being elbow deep in diet culture and eating disorders.

The day after Thanksgiving leaves so many of us feeling guilt and shame over our bodies as a result of what we consumed yesterday. Eating disorders and diet culture, at their core, are really all about having control; and in a world that feels more out of control than ever before, I am sure that the urge to over-exercise and restrict food intake as a way to make up for the the calories consumed yesterday is extremely strong.

So I’m here to ask you one thing, and that is to have mercy on yourself. 

When you find yourself opening your eyes in the morning and immediately thinking about what you ate yesterday, have mercy on yourself.

When you tell yourself that you need to work out as a form of damage control for the food you consumed, please have mercy on yourself.

If you feel as though the only way you deserve to get through the day today is by eating lettuce that you later end up purging, please have mercy on yourself.

If you find yourself staring in the mirror and pinching and poking the softness on your body, wondering if your stomach is more doughy today than it was yesterday, have mercy on yourself.

When you find yourself starting to feel hungry, but do not feel as though you deserve to eat because you enjoyed yourself yesterday, have mercy on yourself.

And finally, if you find that you cannot stop chastising, telling yourself that you were out of control yesterday, and calling yourself names that are shame and guilt inducing, I beg of you, please have mercy on yourself.

You do not have to spend the day obsessing over how to reverse what you ate yesterday because you did absolutely nothing wrong. One huge meal will not, I repeat, will not have any effect on your weight. You deserve to nourish your body today, whether that means having three full meals with snacks, or snacking throughout the entire day.

Try to check in with your body and listen to what it needs. If we tune out the noise of diet culture, we will discover that our bodies already have the answers to the questions that we have been asking our entire lives. So be extra kind to the body parts that you hate, for those body parts have kept you healthy, safe, and alive far before your brain developed enough to allow diet culture and eating disorders get in the way.

When the guilt and the shame and the urges to restrict, purge, over-exercise, or body check start to creep in, please remember to have mercy on yourself. Not just today, but always.