From Halloween through the New Year, food is a way to celebrate and bring people together. But the holidays can also bring awkward family encounters, diet talk around the table, and increased anxiety around all of the abundant and delicious food. All of these things combined can lead to feeling out of control around food or judgemental feelings. This year, how about taking some steps to making peace with food instead of swearing to start over in the New Year?
Here's 5 tips for making food peace this holiday season:
1. Give yourself permission to eat the foods you crave.
Restriction – whether emotional or physical – inevitably causes us to feel crazy around food. So what if you gave yourself permission to eat the foods you like, even ones that you would deem as “bad” or off-limits? You might find that the more often you practice giving yourself permission to eat any food you want, the less stressed you feel about food. So savor your favorite holiday foods while they are here, and remember that all foods can fit into a healthful diet.
2. Know that its okay to feel full.
The holidays are a perfect example of eating for an experience or pleasure rather than purely out of hunger. Even if we do our best to listen to our bodies, we can sometimes overshoot fullness especially in social situations, or because food tastes good. Its ok to feel full, and it will pass. It does not mean that you did something wrong, instantly gained weight, or that you need to do anything about it. Trust that your body knows how to handle it.
3. Separate food from exercise.
There’s a lot of messages around the holidays that you need to burn or sweat in order to deserve indulging in a meal. The truth is that you deserve to eat, period! If you are only exercising to compensate for what you are eating or to alleviate guilt, you may need to take a deeper look and find more meaningful motivators. Exercise should be a way to restore and feel good about moving your body, not as punishment.
4. Set your boundaries.
Does family time around the dinner table bring up memories of diet-talk and food-shaming? Unfortunately, you can’t control other people’s behaviors and food opinions (or their desire to share it with everyone) but you can establish your boundaries before-hand so that you are equipped if anything comes up. Having a few go-to “conversation changers” like new TV shows or current events can help protect your recovery.
5. Focus on family, friends, and festivities.
When you stop worrying about food, it frees up so much brain space to focus on the more important things in life. Remember your true meaning of the holiday season. What are you thankful for? Who do you want to spend time with? How can you help others? The holidays shouldn’t be all about the food. Before you go to a holiday gathering, try visualizing how you want this valuable time to be spent.