Navigating Holiday Eating
5 Tips to Promote Joy and Health, Without Guilt or Stress
The holidays are a time filled with fellowship, fun, and good food, but they’re also rife with guilt and stress about food. The desire to enjoy holiday treats is often overshadowed by fear of weight gain, along with dread about taking action to “fix” this in the New Year. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way! Here are five tips to promote joy and health this holiday season, without all the guilt and stress.
#1 Keep fear of holiday weight gain in check.
Research shows an average weight gain of only about 1-2 lbs. over the holidays. This is drastically different than what we hear in the media, which has us fearing weight gain of 5-10+ lbs. from November to January. In 2017, the weight loss industry was estimated to have a worth of $66.3 billion. It makes sense that they’d want us thinking we need to buy all the diets, gyms, and supplements they have to offer come January. The truth is that fear of holiday weight gain can backfire. It can lead to extreme behaviors, like restricting and then bingeing, that may actually cause weight gain.
Skipping meals or restricting certain foods in anticipation of a big meal or lots of treats is like planning a binge. It has nothing to do with “willpower” or “discipline” and everything to do with normal human biology. Coming to the table ravenously hungry can lead to eating beyond satisfaction all the way to extreme physical discomfort, which can trigger guilt, shame, and distress about food, as well as more extreme behavior and weight gain.
#3 Give yourself permission to eat.
Food has no moral value; you are not “good” or “bad” for eating any food. When you give yourself permission to eat any food, at any time, you’re able to tune in to hunger, fullness, and satisfaction, and have reduced urge to eat “forbidden foods”. This is a tall order for most people, but it’s absolutely necessary to end the cycle of yo-yo dieting and improve relationship with food and body. Viewing any food as off-limits automatically makes that food more desirable. Again, this is not about willpower or discipline; it’s about normal human psychology.
#4 Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is simply paying attention, without judgment. Check in with yourself by asking questions. Am I hungry? Am I full? What do I want to eat? How do I want to feel when I’m finished eating? Becoming aware of factors that influence eating decisions can lead to changing eating habits for the better.
#5 Be confident in your food choices.
Food does not have power over you. Behaviors, more so than food, are what contribute to weight gain. Practice mindfulness, then make a decision and have confidence in it. Confidence in decisions about what, when, and how much to eat will lead to more joy and a better relationship with food than will food-related guilt and stress.
** Ditch the scale this holiday season.
BONUS TIP: Relieve yourself of the stress that comes with knowing about weight fluctuation, which is totally normal and occurs based on water intake, sweat, digestion, and more. Instead, give some thought to the above tips, and practice being mindful, confident, and self-compassionate.
No one wants to exit the holiday season in a state of self-loathing. Give yourself the gift of enjoying this season without guilt or stress about food. And, as always, don’t hesitate to contact Kristen at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.