The Festive Season can feel like a tricky time to navigate your health and food journey.
Because it’s the holidays, traditionally there is delicious food all around us, often made with love or given generously from friends, co-workers, neighbors and family. With the abundance of food comes a strange pressure to fear said food and “holiday weight gain”.
This is diet culture at it’s finest.
*Listen to Episode 15 of The LifeKraft Podcast to learn more about Diet Culture
Encouraging us to fear weight gain as if it’s the worst thing that could happen to us will end up wreaking havoc on our relationships with food and stop us from truly enjoying the holidays in a
flexible, happy way.
Mindfully chosen snacks and meals can be a great option to keep your hunger at bay, energy up, mood steady, and health going strong no matter what time of year it is. So I want to offer advice to go about intuitively eating this Holiday Season without diet culture's guilt.
Try to listen to your body’s cues signaling hunger, fullness, and satisfaction.
Practice listening in a nonjudgmental way. Just get curious about what your body is asking for and how different behaviors affect your body. Maybe you learn you aren’t getting enough sleep. Maybe you learn that you’re going too long without food so you end up cranky and unable to focus. Maybe you realize that you could use a wider variety of ways to manage stress so food is not your only form of stress management.
In order to make lasting changes, you need to start listening to your body this holiday season.
In the past I have been guilty of skipping earlier meals to “save my appetite and save calories” for the main meal. But this leads to primal hunger — which happens when your body needs food urgently to survive — and makes you more inclined to eat way more that what your body is comfortable with the next time food is available.
Your body doesn’t know that the lack of food was due to intentional restriction and not a famine, so it’s going to help you get in all the energy it can in case food isn’t available again for a while. Eating consistent meals and snacks helps your body trust that food is available and promotes reliable hunger and fullness cues.
Ditch all-or-nothing thoughts. So many of us get caught up in black-and-white thinking.
It happens when you go from strict diet days to “cheat days,” which are just planned binges. It happens when you cut foods out entirely or eat all of them when they’re available at a party. It happens when you’re either perfectly tracking your caloric intake or deleting the tracking app and eating everything in sight.
These behaviors lead to the terrible binge/guilt cycle. By breaking that cycle, you can find consistency somewhere in the middle that allows you to live a fuller life not focused on food and weight.
Set healthy boundaries. Setting boundaries can be intimidating, but they also can be very valuable, especially around the holidays. We may encounter family members who comment on our bodies and our food choices. We may get criticized for gaining weight, but we may also get criticized when we don’t eat as much as someone wants us to. Set boundaries with your family ahead of time. Try changing the subject too, or asking questions to invite them to think more about how their comments might impact you.
*Listen to episode 48 of The LifeKraft Podcats with guest expert, Relationship & Life Coach Leah Sefor to learn more about setting healthy boundaries with family.
Instead of allowing food to stress you out and cause anxiety, learn to focus on what makes you feel good, both physically and mentally. This holiday season, enjoy the cookies, the traditional dishes and, most important, the time with your loved ones.
Gentle Reminders from me to keep in mind this Holiday Season:
Be Flexible & Kind to Yourself - aka eat the damn cookie! You're allowed to enjoy this season and still have a balanced outlook on your relationship with food and your health.
Enjoy the food you're eating. If you don't enjoy something, don't eat it. Start listening to your body and simply say no or choose something else to eat.
If you have dietary restrictions, plan ahead. Take responsibility for your own health and well being by preparing your own food or letting the hosts know.
Stay Hydrated. Drink enough water daily.
Eat enough food to feel satisfied. Don't restrict. Don't eat to the point of discomfort regularly. There is a middle ground that you can tune into when you reconnect with your body.
Include foods that will make you feel the way you want to feel e.g. energized, grounded, light, balanced, peaceful, etc. Food is way more than fuel. If you're having a busier, more active day, enjoy foods that will give you long lasting energy. If you want to feel grounded and peaceful eat food that will give you a sense of that.
Take a self-care approach and really tune in to what you need and what will make you feel vibrant and alive come the new year.
*Listen to episode 47 of The LifeKraft Podcast where I share my own journey on how to get through the Holidays while healing your relationship with food
Don't eat your feelings. That never works. Take a walk, cry in the bathroom, listen to a guided meditation, play with your dog, listen to uplifting music, or do whatever 'tool' works for you to move through the emotions instead of numbing or suppressing them. Food will not help you heal those part of your life. Let things come up to come out.
Move your body daily. Go for a walk, play, swim, do a 10 min yoga or pilates flow in your room. You absolutely can enjoy even more movement at this time without the excuse that you have a busy schedule. Your body was made to move, your body loves moving around, find a way to move that you enjoy and keep going even if you're on holiday.
When it's time to rest, rest fully. I mean it. Allow your body and mind to rest. Sleep late, do relaxing massages, walks in nature, reading a book etc. Don't shy away from turning off your phone too...
Manage your stress & anxiety. This can be a stressful time so be mindful of your 'wonky knee'. What might be the thing that will 'trip you up' to have anxiety, fear, tension, a binge and prepare for that by using tools you have learned like a morning meditation, gratitude journaling, focusing your attention to the wanted, listening to an uplifting podcast etc.
Keep nourishing your body with supplements, adaptogens, cold showers, wearing your blue blockers in front of the TV or laptop, enjoying whole foods, hydrating, etc.
Don't stop being yourself just because your in a different environment. You're allowed to live, think and behave differently than the people around you. Keep doing you no matter what the reaction may be.