Holiday Food Guilt

Here we go, about to enter the anticipated, but most often dreaded, holiday dinner. This time of year can bring on feelings of anxiety for people who are uncomfortable with trusting themselves around food. I am one of those people. Yep, I admit it. My relationship with food and body image has been a rocky one, and it’s this time of year that always has me on edge just a little.

Through a diligent practice of self compassion, acceptance, and healthy habits such as eating whole foods and exercising consistently, I have been able to break through these issues. But they always creep up during big celebrations that involve plenty of food, alcohol, and dessert. Should I drink wine? Because if I do, my inhibitions drop a little around how much food I should eat. Should I eat the potatoes? Or maybe save my “allowed” carbs for dessert? Well, technically wine is sugar, so I’ve already had my carbs, but then what about the pie/cake/chocolate? And it goes on and on in my head until finally I come up with the solution of simply throwing in the towel. “F@*K IT! What’s the point, I think. I can always start fresh in the New Year right? And then I go ahead and eat the potatoes, chase it with some wine, and follow up with a couple servings of dessert. And very often it would spiral into bad food choices for the rest of the week. Because I told myself I would start another diet on Jan.1.

I don’t do this anymore. Because year after year of this negative self talk and criticism left so much sadness and pain that I couldn’t do it to myself anymore. So I ditched it. It wasn’t easy, and believe me I still have to remind myself all the time that I am human, I am not alone, and there are millions of people who feel exactly the same way I do. So this is why I’m sharing. Because if you’re one of these people, just know that you are absolutely, 100% NOT alone.

My biggest break through was in the realization that EVERYTHING WILL BE OK! Nothing will be lost because of one meal, or even one day of indulgence. I practiced conscious awareness of what I was doing. I would talk to myself (yes, out loud, when no one was around). I’d say “OK, today you are going to be celebrating with family and friends. There will be lots of food and I am giving myself permission to enjoy it.” The worst thing we can do to ourselves is wash down that food with a side of guilt and eat it so fast that we don’t even recall what it tasted like. It really is. If you’re going to indulge and have something delicious, then the least you can do is be present and enjoy it! Taste every bite, eat it slowly, savor the moment.

Food is just food. We are the ones that give it power, we are the ones who decide if a food is “good” or “bad”. We are the ones who make up rules that we must abide by or we deem ourselves failures. It’s absurd! The minute we stop restricting ourselves to these rules, regulations, and labels, we become free. Free to make whatever choice we want to and be completely OK with it.

So here are the top 5 things I did to heal my relationship with food:

  1. Nourish my body with whole foods that make me feel good, inside and out. (not strictly, but consistently)
  2. Practice self compassion by loving myself, saying nice things to myself, and treating myself with respect.
  3. Patience. Accepting and knowing that these things take time. Years of negativity will not disappear in a day.
  4. Exercise. It’s stress relieving and it makes me feel good about my body.
  5. Open up and talk to others, because chances are, they just might be going through the very same thing.

Merry Christmas Everyone! May your holiday season be filled with love, compassion, patience, self awareness, and really good FOOD!