It’s the holiday season and unfortunately, this time of year can bring up loads of food anxiety for those who struggle with owning their food choices. The thought of all the “bad” food that will be in front of you during the holidays can make you feel 1) like throwing in the towel and eating “bad” 24/7 or 2) like you need to heavily restrict and/or overwork yourself at the gym until the holidays are over. Neither one of these options are ideal and I am here to help you get through the holidays without feeling guilty about your food choices.
Step 1 - Address the food guilt you are feeling
There are a lot of people who feel guilty around food thanks to diet culture. We are surrounded by ads that tell us what food we need to eat and what foods we need to avoid. In turn, we think of certain foods as good for us and certain foods as treats. When we have the treats, we feel guilty and this guilt can eventually lead us into a vicious cycle of restricting and binge eating.
In order to help you avoid feeling guilty, write down at least three affirmations that you can read aloud to yourself everyday. For example, your guilty feeling may be “I ate a Christmas cookie today, I might as well keep eating them so that I can restart tomorrow.” Change this into a positive by writing “I can have one Christmas cookie today and have another tomorrow if that is what I am craving.”
Adjusting your mindset around food is the first and most important step towards food peace.
Step 2 - Drop the “good” and “bad” labels that you give to food
When you eat a salad for lunch, do you catch yourself saying “I was good today”? When you eat a piece of candy at work, do you catch yourself saying “ I was bad today, I better eat a lighter dinner”? When you are “good” all week (meaning you ate salads and fruit all week) do you catch yourself wanting to be “bad” all weekend (meaning eating pizza, ice cream, chips, candy, etc.)?
You need to start viewing food as just food instead of placing certain things in the “bad” category and others in the “good” category. When we label food this way, we transfer these labels to ourselves and end up feeling guilty.
When you label food as being good or bad, you end up labeling yourself as being good or bad.
Work on de-cateorgizing foods so that you can enjoy any food your like without labeling yourself as being “good” or “bad.
Step 3 - Eat like you normally would the day of a holiday party
One of the things I used to do before a holiday party was load up on a protein shake, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. I thought that if I ate like this before the party, I would be too full to reach for any “treats”. Let me tell you, that method NEVER worked for me. I always found myself unhappy because I was unable to enjoy any party food and later that night, I would binge eat junk food from the pantry.
Do not eat any differently the day of a holiday party! Do not plan out what you will eat that day and do not try to figure out what types of food will be there. Go enjoy the party and remember to give yourself permission to enjoy the homemade foods you love and if you start to feel guilty, refer back to your affirmations from the first step.
If you feel that you need help throughout the holidays, check out my 3 week program here. We will go into more detail on these steps and I will hold live sessions to answer your questions and help you on your journey towards food peace.