Guilt Free and Holidays….. Can these words coexist?
Although the holidays can be really fun and enjoyable, I remember a time when it was rather stressful and difficult. Before I healed my relationship with food and my body, the holidays were really hard. They were challenging because of the different foods that were available, which meant I couldn’t trust myself around food, and also seeing a large group of people and the conversations that usually take place during this time of year. I wasn’t able to set boundaries, my routine felt off and I overall felt very uncomfortable.
If you’re in that ambiguous space of excitement and stress, I hear you! That’s why I created this blog post to talk about 7 tips that I have found to be supportive for me over the years, to be able to enjoy a guilt free holiday.
During the holiday season, your schedule may change a lot and you may let go of your usual routine. Allowing yourself to be flexible, take a break from your usual go go go schedule can be nice and necessary! However, you want to make sure that you aren’t neglecting the importance of nourishing your body enough, because your body always need and deserve this.
You want to make sure you are not skipping meals, even though you may be sleeping in a little later, you move a little less, you still want to make it a point to have 3 meals and snacks every day. It can be very easy to skip out on meals or ‘save up’ for other meals, however this will only lead to the guilt and shame cycle of restricting and overeating.
You want to continue to nourish the habit of eating when you are hungry and fear this signal.?????? You want to avoid saving food or calories for later, because again, you are just setting yourself up to fail when you do that. You are probably going to end up eating a lot more than you intended to, because your body desperately needed this energy, but it results in you not feeling great about yourself.
Along with that, you want to tune into your satiety cues! There may be a lot of delicious foods available, which is great! You want to be able to tune into your body and enjoy these foods. However, if you aren’t hungry for these foods in the moment, you don’t need to eat them. I remind myself that I can still enjoy this food later when I am hungry for it. So, grounding yourself into this place of acknowledging your fullness, and acknowledging that the option to have more later is there.
This means that all foods fit.
An important part of reducing the guilt around foods is to allow yourself to have them.
If you continue to tell yourself “Oh, I can’t have this” or “No, I need to be good”, you are only increasing your cravings for those foods, because you genuinely want them and enjoy them.
Think about it this way:
Well…. You probably thought about the pink elephant.
The more you add rules and restrictions, the more you’re going to increase your cravings and your food thoughts and obsessions. So, telling yourself that you can’t, is actually not supportive.
What you want to do instead is before a meals and before the holidays, you want to set yourself personal reminders (on your phone, calendar, alarm or post its!) that you have permission to choose to eat any food you want today and every day.
There will be times where you will eat past the point of satiety. This is 100% normal, it is not a personal failure, remember that you are human and not a robot.
What you don’t want to do is prematurely set your mindset up with rules and conditions to avoid this type of behaviour to happen. Because, if it does happen (that you eat past satiety), then, you tell yourself “well, I already ruined it so I might as well go all in right?”
Instead, what you want to do is set the expectation that there will be times where you will be really mindful and other times where you will be less mindful. And that’s OK. It’s part of the human experience and you need to normalize this experience in order to actually regain control over your body and your eating experience.
Check out my FREE Class to learn more about my Guilt-Free Method so that you can find food freedom and feel good in your body.
Boundaries are a really important part of self care and self advocacy. Having boundaries and not engaging in food and body centric conversations with the people you surround yourself by can be important to protect yourself and support your personal journey towards healing your relationship with food and your body.
To understand what your boundaries are, try asking yourself the following questions:
Once you have identified some answers to these questions, you can better begin to conceptualize what these boundaries will resemble for you and what you need and don’t need from others to support your healing journey.
When communicating these boundaries to others, it can resemble something like this:
“ Hey! I am coming back for the holidays and I can’t wait to spend time with you. However, I want you to know that I have been working on my relationship with food and my body, and I’ve learned that talking about diets or weight loss makes me feel sad and uneasy. I would appreciate it if we didn’t have these types of conversations when I see you.”
You can read the latest blog on how to address body comments for more tips on how to navigate this over the holidays!
Self care doesn’t always have to mean taking a bath or taking a day off. Although those are great! Self-care can also be applied in little moments throughout the day.
Even though you may not be home over the holidays, you want to make sure that you set aside little bubbles of time where you make sure you check in with yourself and provide yourself with something you need. Having a self-care plan or a routine that you are going to be able to do every day will be supportive as you navigate through the holiday craze.
Identify 3, non-negotiable actionable items you need to do on a daily basis to get you through the day. This could include: deep breathing, joyful movement and listening to your favourite music.
For myself, what I like to do as my non-negotiable self-care actions is to take a daily walk, by myself. I am someone who needs time alone to decompress. As much as I love my family, it can be a lot! And in order for me to be present and better enjoy my time with them, I need to check in with myself and step away momentarily. Another form of self-care that I engage in daily is having lunch. In the past, this has been difficult for me because my in-laws tend to not eat lunch, especially over the holidays, however, this is a big part of my self-care is to nourish my body!
The thought of dieting and being restrictive may come back during the holidays, especially with the hyper-focused emphasis on food.
It’s common for us to indulge, perhaps more than usual, or maybe you move a little less, which has led us to move to a place of discomfort. When you get to this place, your minds immediately think “uh oh, what have I done? I need to diet again to undo the damage I have done. I need to get back on track!”.
When you get to this place, you really want to make sure that you are not going to engage in radical and impulsive behaviours, such as restriction, dieting and over exercising for example. Check in with yourself, assess which boundaries have been crossed and lean into the discomfort as opposed to running away from it.
As you enter 2022, I encourage you to make sure that you are intentionally setting non-body-related goals. Truthfully, you don’t even need to wait until January, you can start it right away ad transition into this new practice in the new year.
I wish you the best holidays, and I hope you’re going to be able to implement some of these actionable tools. 2022 is the year for you to heal your relationship with food and your body, it doesn’t need to wait.
Hear me explore this topic more in-depth in this week’s solo podcast episode! Access it by clicking on any of the icons below!
The Balanced Practice is a team of professionals specialized in eating disorder outpatient treatment, disordered eating. Our mission is to help as many folks heal their relationship with food and their bodies so they can live happily outside of diet culture!
We strive to provide evidence based counselling to support you, or your loved one, in achieving full recovery. Schedule a connection call now.
Marie-Pier Pitre-D’Iorio, RD, B.Sc.Psychology
Lead Registered Dietitian and Founder of The Balanced Practice