So here we are in December and the holiday season is upon us. This time of the year can be a challenging time to navigate, especially if you are just in the beginning of your make-peace-with-food journey.
Food is in abundant supply and so is the media’s continued supply of mixed messages. If you open any women’s magazine you will most likely see a miss mash between “How to bake delicious cookies and sweet treats” to “How to beat the Christmas bulge and look fabulous in the little black dress”.
Years ago, long before I became firmly rooted in a non-diet approach, I both followed and gave out advice such as “ How to stop overeating at Christmas, to prevent weight gain and “How to avoid temptations” (insert face palm here…). Anyway, these days when I know better, I would like to rectify this past advice with something more useful and something that won’t backfire into deprivation driven eating or binge like behaviour, just because diet mentality is reinforced.
The Holiday Season can be challenging to navigate for many reasons, not just food alone, but dealing with family, in-laws etc. and the general stress of this time of year often have their own challenges and if the relationship with particular people are strained normally, the holiday season may not make it any easier. As a result we may turn to food (or alcohol) in order to cope. Don’t beat your self up about it, if this is the case, we all do what we in have to in order to survive.
The hallmark of diet mentality is this All Or Nothing thinking. It is either Good or Bad. Intuitive eating helps us live in the grey (though I prefer to think of it as a rainbow…), where choice and flexibility exists. Of course it may feel easier to roll with an all or nothing approach, sussing out all the nuances in between is so much messier. But it is here, in the mess and the nuance, that peace and freedom resides.
So actually, even though this time of year IS challenging to navigate, between family stuff, diet talk, overwhelm and perhaps fear of how to cope with it all, it can also provide us with rich soil for practice and growth.
These are my five suggestions for How To Navigate The Holiday Season As An Intuitive Eater.
- Give yourself full permission to eat ALL foods
This is the basic tenet of intuitive eating. In order to create space for choice, we have to first let go of all the rigid food rules we’re holding on to. If ALL foods are ‘allowed’ then there’s no reason for feeling guilty for eating anything. If you could have whatever you want of what is on offer, what do YOU want? Pick what you truly enjoy of the seasonal feasts on offer and feel free to say no to the rest. You are don’t have to eat something “just because”.
- Practice honouring your hunger and fullness ques (and don’t arrive to the party starving!)
Now is a prime opportunity to truly listen to your body. Of course there may be some overeating past comfortable fullness, that’s to be expected simply by the share amount of food that tends to be serves on Christmas Day alone. That is totally cool too. Your body knows how to handle it.
And if you are not “saving up calories” but continue with a practice of eating regular meals, there is less chance of inhaling everything in sight, just because you are Starving!
If you can let go of any idea starting (another) diet in January, it will be so much easier to relax into this and to let your body guide you. You are just respecting your body’s cues and that’s that.
- You don’t need to repent anything
Adopt this as a mantra if one of your struggles are with over exercising and/ or a fear of weight gain. Move your body because it feels good to do so. You don’t need to earn food, or burn it off. Not over the Holiday Season or any other time of the year for that matter. Trust that your body know how to regulate itself.
- Set boundaries
Say No, if you have to. Your body, your rules. If you are surrounded by diet talk, try changing the conversation or excuse yourself. Leave if you have to, in order to keep your sanity and if it is too triggering. Also unsubscribe and unfollow all the diet advice that may be still coming your way.
- Rest, Move, Socialise, Eat – Do whatever you need to take care of YOU
Allow yourself some time to do what feels best for you. This may be the greatest gift you can gift yourself. Oh and be gentle with yourself too. Self-kindness and self compassion is always a good idea.
Happy Holidays xx
(All images from Unsplash/ Rawpixels)