Sooo, Christmas is coming AND there will be food. LOTS & LOTS OF FOOD. All these foods that smell wonderful, that are a part of tradition … and that you tell yourself you “really shouldn’t” eat.
Now, although many people deeply believe that it’s absolutely inevitable to overeat, eat extremely unhealthy & “get fat” in order to enjoy Christmas holidays, I’m gonna suggest this is all lies.
What is really going on it that women who diet and restrict foods, find it extremely difficult to “resist” foods, especially during winter holidays when we’re constantly surrounded with foods that we know taste heavenly, and smell even more so.
Chronic dieters then decide to control their eating, they decide this year, they will not eat cookies, nor any other delicious, traditional Christmas foods. Naturally, sooner or later, they give in – perfectly normal reaction to restriction. And when they do give in, they binge eat. Often, they end up feeling stuffed and guilty, promising to change and “be better tomorrow”.
Diet binge cycle continues through the entire holiday season, not allowing dieters to truly enjoy the holidays – after all, how can you be fully present with your family if you’re using your entire mental energy trying to resist a piece of your favorite pie?
Of course, this is followed by “I’m starting a diet January 1st”, “New year, new me”, “I’ll start going to the gym & eating healthy in the New year” – you probably know all of these.
Question is; how did this work out for you historically?
(I mean, if it worked out well, you wouldn’t be in this situation every year, would you? Your last year’s “new you” would still be present, if it worked.)
Chances are, if you’re not completely happy with yourself, your body or your food choices – not as well as you’ve hoped. You probably feel like a failure, anxious around food. It’s exhausting. It’s stressful.
And you know, when food becomes stressful, it’s no longer healthy.
Good news is, there are simple strategies we can implement during holiday season to make sure it doesn’t ruin your efforts to establish healthy relationship with food.
If your choice this year is to prioritize your wellbeing, self-love, ENJOYING the food and the holidays without dreading January 1st when your new diet is gonna start (or dreading January 3rd when it’s gonna fail – because that’s what diets do), here’s what you can do:
1. Discard the limiting beliefs that are keeping you stuck in diet-binge cycle
First step of food freedom during the holiday season is challenging the beliefs that binge eating or “getting fat” and ending holiday season with yet another diet is a must-do of a holiday season.
A few questions that can help you:
- Is this really true, for everyone, all the time?
- What if instead of obsessing over eating or not eating a certain food, I allowed myself to enjoy the foods I choose, and focused more of spending quality time with my family?
- Aside from food, what makes Christmas special? How can I focus more on that?
- What does my body really want? Did food restrictions even work well for me? Is eating a bunch of cookies really going to ruin my health? Or, is enjoying my favorite foods while spending time with my loved ones enhance my health?
- How many diets did I already start in January through the years? Did they work out? If they “did”, would I need to start a new diet every year?
- Do I prefer feeling anxious and stressed around food, or would I prefer to feel at peace?
Now, once you’ve gone through these questions, you can focus on transforming this story into a brand new story that will actually serve your wellbeing and help you cultivate a healthy, positive relationship with food.
Some of the positive beliefs you can adopt are:
- Food is just one of many aspects of holiday season and I freely enjoy it, but I also consciously decide to stay in tune with my body and its needs. Therefore, I eat as much as I need, honoring my hunger and fullness cues.
- I get to eat whenever I want, and I get to walk away from food whenever I want. I feel at peace knowing that food is always available to me.
- Holiday season is a season of ____ and I focus on that. Food is a beautiful addition to overall joy of the holiday season.
- My body loves me and I love my body. I feed my body in a loving way that feels good to me.
- I get to choose how much I eat, guilt free. When food becomes stressful, it’s no longer healthy. And I choose health over restriction and judgement.
These are just some of the new beliefs you can choose to repeat as often as possible, until they become a normal story in your head. If needed, you can write them on a little cards and carry the cards with you as a reminder of what’s really important to you.
Of course, you probably cannot expect a huge change in a day or two, especially if you’ve spent your entire life dieting and binge eating. However, no matter how much time you need – you’re worth it. The level of freedom that comes with having a healthy relationship with food is utterly amazing and trust me, it’s so worth it.
2. Don’t go hungry
Whether it’s an office Christmas party or a family dinner, going out hungry – especially hangry- is probably not the best idea. When you’re hungry, your body needs food. And if you’re super hungry andsurrounded by tons of food you may end up overeating and feeling stuffed. Probably not how you’d like to feel at a Christmas party.
Therefore, it’s going to be hard to listen to your body if you leave the house starving.
The smart strategy in these situations is eating a small snack before leaving; it can be as simple as an apple and a tablespoon of peanut butter, or just a yogurt and a few berries, or your favorite granola bar. No need to complicate.
The point is only to avoid becoming overly hungry.
3. Don’t forget to drink
As you may know, we’re basically cucumbers with feelings. Meaning, we’re mostly water. And water is needed in our bodies for many processes, for oxygen transportation, nutrient transportation, healthy cell functions, lubricating joints, regulating body temperature, our brain function etc.
Therefore, it’s clear to say – staying hydrated is one of the greatest things you can do for your wellbeing.
Be mindful of your drinking habits – do it first thing in the morning; a lukewarm to warm glass of water with fresh lemon juice is one of the best ways you can start a day. Drink a lot of tea, water, sparking water, infused water – options are basically endless.
Yes, of course you can enjoy juices, but be mindful of your blood sugar levels. Try to drink them with some balanced meal to avoid sugar crash – that never really feels good.
4. Eat mindfully
As the rest of the strategies, this one also goes for the entire year – not only holiday season. But now it’s especially important, when we’re constantly around food.
When starting a meal, try to ditch the phone, TV, books or whatever distraction is available at the moment.
What I’d like you to focus on is enjoying the food while eating. Focus on the taste, texture, colors, smells – make it an experience. Be present.
Chew your food well; digestion starts in your mouth.
When you’re eating mindfully, you’ll be able to notice your fullness and respect it. And if you later realize you ate more than you needed, that’s okay – it happens to everyone sometimes. No need to avoid food or “make up for it”.
A good rule of thumb; if you’re able to take a gentle walk with friends after your meal, you’ve probably reached a comfortable level of fullness.
If you need to lie down, feeling like “you can’t move” and can’t continue with your everyday activities, you’ve probably eaten more than your body needed. It’s okay, lie down, relax, and then move on with your life. One meal or day of eating will certainly not make or break your health.
5. Move, move, move
I get it – staying home, drinking tea & watching Netflix sounds much better than getting out in the freezing cold. However, moving our bodies is important through the entire year – winter as well.
Therefore, choose activities you love the best and do them regularly. Go for a walk, whether it’s around the city to watch beautiful decorations, or through the forest. Do some yoga. Dance around the house. Do 10 squats while watching Netflix.
It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it feels amazing to you. Your body will definitely thank you; exercise provides loads of health benefits, including, but not limited to; healthy muscles, bones, skin, heart, brain, better mood, better sleep, cognitive function…
Good news; even small amounts of daily movement have positive health benefits. So even a quick, 10 minute walk, will serve you health in a positive way.
6. Most importantly, be kind to yourself
Love yourself. Love yourself unapologetically.
Look, it doesn’t matter how many strategies you or I may have – life happens. It’s completely normal and everyone overeats more than needed every now and then. Especially when presented with so many delicious choices.
When overeating happens, it’s crucial to have a healthy mindset about it. If you do happen to overeat till the point “you can’t breathe anymore” – it’s okay.
It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.
It doesn’t mean you’re a failure.
It doesn’t mean you will never be able to have a healthy relationship with food.
It doesn’t mean you’re weak.
It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t even try.
It doesn’t mean you need a new diet.
All of these are just silly stories your inner mean girl can throw at you. However, you do have a choice to take control and talk back.
You see, YOU are the one who gives meaning to any situation. You can consciously choose to dwell on whatever the mean girl inside your head says OR you can say – thank you very much for your opinion, but I know this is not true and I choose to believe that perfection is not mandatory, that world is NOT black and white, that overeating means NOTHING about me, every meal is my chance of treating myself well and maintaining my new, healthy relationship with food.
Guess which perception will serve you better. Choose wisely, love.
Remember, if you happen to overeat one of these days – you don’t need to go on a juice cleanse, detox diet, starve yourself for the next 3 days or drown in guilt.
Just continue where you left of, like nothing happened.
The same strategy goes before a big family dinner – if you know you’re gonna have a big meal, DON’T go starve yourself entire day so that you can eat all the foods in the evening. That just signals your body that it’s starving and it will work on holding on to every calorie because it wants to survive.
Eat a normal breakfast, a light lunch and a lovely dinner with your family – without any guilt or shame or counting calories.
Holiday season should be about love – not about hating yourself because you ate a couple of cookies. Please, remember this at all times.
And don’t forget that every meal is a new chance. One overeating doesn’t mean you should continue overeating till “January 1st when you will start a new diet”.
If, by any chance, you feel anxious about the whole season, now is the time to give yourself a gift of freedom – my private coaching is always there for you, or our lovely course “Intuitive Eating Through Holidays” which is absolutely amazing opportunity to show yourself some love make peace with food, forever.