Finally, the holiday season is here! From family gatherings, planning potlucks and the mad dash that is Christmas shopping, the holidays can be both an exciting and stressful time for most.
Like many celebrations, the holiday season involves gathering together with everyone we love around lots of delicious food. Often times we may be invited to several celebrations. We may also have less time to stick to routines. Further, we may see people we have not seen in a very long time. For those recovering from an eating disorder or struggling with food and/or their body, this time of year can be especially challenging.
We know that the holidays can be hard. So, here are some of out tips to help you overcome any holiday food guilt and stress this year.
During the holiday season, you may eat a little bit more than usual. You will likely also eat a variety of different foods that you wouldn’t normally eat every day. Just because you are not in your typical routine, does not mean that you have “fallen off the wagon” or need to focus on “burning it off”. In fact, there is no situation in which you need to think about “burning off” your food. This mindset will only set you up to feel guilty after sharing a special meal with those you love.
Remember, our bodies are smart and know how to use that extra energy for good. Further, there are many more reasons to exercise other than weight loss. Most importantly, food is more than fuel. The holidays are a perfect example of how food is such an important part of our social lives, our culture, and can be how we show love.
This year, instead of worrying about “burning off” your holiday meal, focus on enjoying your company and those foods that you may not be served on a regular basis.
Like we said, your body is very smart. The calories in our food are broken down into energy to fuel so many important processes and functions. Many of these functions are necessary for us to live like keeping our heart beating, our lungs breathing, and even our stomach digesting.
A few extra calories over the holiday season will not throw off our bodies. Our bodies process and use over one-million calories each year to put it into perspective. Our bodies will continue to put these calories, vitamins, and minerals to good use while we enjoy our celebrations. In fact, for those that are athletes or that train, extra energy might be just what you need to repair those muscles and cells.
Have you ever heard the saying, “you want what you can’t have”? Well, this applies to ALL foods as well.
When we don’t allow ourselves to eat that slice of pie, our cravings tend to get even stronger. In the meantime, wer may try to fill up on other “acceptable” foods to kick the craving. However, we will likely give in eventually and may eat 2 or 3 slices on top of that extra food. Not to say that extra food or an extra slice of pie is wrong or bad. However, we would have likely felt satisfied (and not sick) eating less if we weren’t feeling deprived in the first place.
Cutting foods out of your diet often creates a cycle of restriction and binging that can leave us feeling unwell and guilty. More often than not, it is best to just eat the food when we crave it. In doing so, you may find that start to see all foods as neutral and feel less guilty after eating. See our blog Using Intuitive Eating to Navigate the Holidays for more tips.
Again, food is MORE than fuel. Food is an important part of our lives and is meant to also be enjoyed. Food can be connection, it can be how we explore our cultures, and it can be nostalgic and bring back memories. Arguably, the best part, is that food can taste amazing. You can give yourself the permission to eat what you want and what you crave during the holiday season simply because you enjoy it.
The holiday season only comes around once a year. For some of us, this is one of the only times we have to spend with family and friends near and far. In addition, this may also be one of the only times a year that we are served some of our favourite celebratory dishes. Thus, it is important to enjoy this time and to try our best to be fully present. To the best of your ability, take the negative focus off of food while still allowing yourself to enjoy your favourite dishes without the stress or guilt.
If you are looking for guidance when it comes to food freedom and food guilt around the holidays, we are happy to provide you with support. See our services HERE.