3 Ways to Avoid Holiday Food Guilt and Anxiety
The Holidays are centered around sharing meals with loved ones. However, for many people, the holiday season is littered with food anxiousness and guilt that distract from the festivities. I believe no one should feel guilty for a little overindulging around the holidays. As long as you can get back on track the next day, indulging on Thanksgiving isn’t a problem. But for some, one day of ditching your inhibitions can lead to weeks or months of poor food choices. It can be a slippery slope.
You know yourself the best, so the first step in getting rid of the anxiousness is knowing your weaknesses and coming up with a game plan. I’ve put together 3 simple steps to avoiding food anxiety and guilt around the holidays to help you with that game plan.
Know your triggers.
You have to know yourself to overcome yourself. By that I mean, our minds can sabotage us at any time, they’re powerful. Our minds can be the reason for our success and the reason for our failure. They make up things on a daily basis that we have to choose to believe or not. Often, we need to overcome the things that our mind makes up, but first we need to realize that our mind has this capability and what our personal tendencies and habits are.
For some people, there can be a lot of stress being around family for the holidays, and that stress leads to poor food choices. For this person, establishing a morning routine of meditation for the next 6 weeks could help deal with that stress.
For those of us who are people pleasers, we may feel bad not trying everyone’s dish for fear of making THEM feel bad. For those people, I would remind you that it’s your body, and it’s your choice what to put in it. You don’t need to appease others by trying their stuffing.
Some may obsess over the fear of gaining weight and that very obsession causes stress and overwhelm that eventually leads to poor food choices. The fact is, indulging on Thanksgiving and Christmas is not going to make you gain pounds, it’s what you do every other day that really counts. So maybe that’s where the work needs to be put in. Don’t put off implementing an exercise routine until January 1st, START NOW. I’ve found with my clients, that if they can establish a healthy routine in their daily life that they feel good about, the food fear and other anxiousness dissolves.
If the scale is a trigger for you, don’t step on it. The fear and anxiety that can come from those numbers isn’t worth it. The numbers don’t matter anyway. It’s about feeling good and feeling confident about yourself, which can be achieved at any weight.
Figure out what your fears are and what your triggers are and confront them with the truth and with a plan.
Practice mindful eating.
Take this holiday season as an opportunity to start practicing mindful eating! Mindful eating allows you to enjoy food that you love and avoid mindless eating that could lead to guilt. Mindful eating involves tapping into your body’s wants, needs, hunger and satiation ques and honoring them. It involves being on the same team as your body when it comes to eating and helps you feel more in control of your food choices.
One tip for mindful eating is to only eat at designated meal times. Grazing is usually done mindlessly, in the middle of food prep or other festivities and it comes with distraction that doesn’t really allow you to be mindful. When you sit down to eat at the appointed time, you’re able to really think about the choices involved like what you eat and how much. It allows you to listen to your body’s ques and really ENJOY your food. For me, I choose to eat exactly the things I’m craving and leave the other stuff behind. Chances are you’re not craving rolls and stuffing and potato casserole and pumpkin pie and apple pie and cookies…… so choose a couple and really enjoy them!
Ditch the guilt and shame.
I know guilt and shame sometimes sneak up on you (that’s why it’s important to know your triggers) but you CAN leave them behind. Ultimately, feelings of guilt lead to more unhealthy behaviors down the road like the restrict-binge cycle. This thanksgiving, make a promise to yourself that even if you eat a little too much, give yourself a break! If you have a tendency to feel shame, then I would encourage some self-love practices, affirmations, meditation etc. to help you live in the TRUTH about you. The truth is, you’re a worthy, loved, valuable and unique individual no matter how much you eat. Eating apple pie because it’s your favorite is a good enough reason to eat it!
In order to ditch the guilt, you must also ditch the rules. Obeying rules can allow you to feel in control but it can also become dangerously obsessive and lead to an unhealthy mindset. What helps my clients the most is realizing they CAN EAT ANYTHING THEY WANT, nothing is “off limits.” Give yourself full permission to eat the food. This might sound scary but the mindset shift will cultivate freedom and subdue urges to leap at every food that are “off limits.” It actually give you more control about what you eat because it’s really YOU choosing, not the rules, guilt or fear choosing.
Keep in mind that anxiousness around food choices and shame attached to eating, stem from an unhealthy relationship with food and your body. Building and creating trust and safety in food is the foundation for building positive relationship with food. Salvaging these relationships doesn’t happen overnight and it takes WORK. If you feel like you need some support in this process send me a message! I help clients restore their relationship with food and their bodies in a sustainable way that allows for freedom and peace. Being someone who struggled with a lot of disordered eating in my past, I can speak from experience when I say, the freedom is worth all the time and effort it may take to get there.