With the holidays coming up, it is important to keep in mind that this time of year is all about spending time with loved ones and of course, food! It is important to revisit this – the holidays are meant to be enjoyed and full of love for those around you, for your food, and for yourself. However, the holidays can come loaded with challenges and struggles – food choices, body image, family relationships, and financial strain, to count a few.  

Acknowledging that celebrating holidays come with a lot of privilege… beautiful large feasts are a blessing we look forward to, but we may have complicated emotions around all the options. 

Whether you feel like it’s a time to indulge and deal with the “calories” later, or feeling like you have to make up for it, or even struggling with figuring out what you “should” or “shouldn’t” eat… holidays & celebrations are better enjoyed when that stress of what to eat and how to feel about it, is not a stress or struggle… not during, and not after.  

I may not have the wisdom to solve all the struggles around the holidays, but I can certainly help you with how you approach your food & relate to your body by explaining how you can practice intuitive eating during the holidays.

Holiday Foods: Intuitive & Joyful Eating

Consider which foods bring your joy & pleasure, as well as bring you satisfaction and offer variety. Fill your plate with foods that you know you will 100% enjoy, and foods which you do not normally get the chance to enjoy or may not have access to regularly. 

For example, if there’s roast chicken as well as your grandmother’s famous roast turkey, opt for the turkey and make the most out of your holiday favourite while they’re available during these special times of the year. In addition, because of all the amazing side dishes and choices available, do what you can to enjoy a variety of foods over sheer quantity. You can gauge the variety by getting a wide range of colour on your plate as well as a balance of carbs, proteins and vegetables.  

Pass on the Diet Talk

Diet talk tends to come up around the dinner table. Whether it be a talk about the latest fad diet or how many pounds they gained or lost, diet talk can be triggering to many people and is often more subconsciously harmful, especially if there’s kids listening. If you find yourself commenting on someone else’s habits or looks, I encourage you to reconsider how that may be negatively affecting them (or those listening).

If you never knew this talk could be harmful instead of inspiring: Always remember that everyone is fighting their own battles… you never know what they’ve been through or going through with their food, eating, or body image. They could have been struggling with disordered eating or eating disorders, or they could have lost weight due to unfortunate circumstances… or even perhaps they have been beating themselves up for the change in their body size and going through depression. There’s so much more valuable and meaningful things we can talk about with one another, other than our body looks & food choices.  

If you’re personally triggered:  It can be helpful to know what you need to do to best take care of yourself, whether it be not participating in these conversations or even removing yourself from these situations, do what feels right for you. Remember that the comments made don’t reflect anything about you as much as reflects more about them – this inherent fatphobia or fear of fatness speaks to what diet culture has ingrained in us over the years. 

If you catch yourself engaging (or stuck) in these talks: Attempt to bring balance to the conversation – for example, you could diffuse it by saying: “did you notice how short-term dieting always makes you feel bad when you stop doing it?” or “these habits might actually be the exact reason why you feel bad” or “try thinking of ways to eat that you can do for life, but make sure you don’t feel guilty when you’re enjoying foods at celebrations” 

No Good or Bad Foods – It’s Just Food

Food around the holidays tend to get a lot of labels and this can actually be more harmful than you might think. Try to refrain from calling foods good or bad, and try to stay away from the “junk food” mindset. By labelling foods as such, it takes away the pleasure and instead instills feelings of guilt or shame when we rightfully enjoy these foods. All food is exactly that — just food — and all food is meant to be enjoyed! How we react to foods or treat ourselves after we eat a food is the problem, not the food itself.

Not Too Mindful – Embrace Your Satisfaction Factor!

You know how we always talk about being mindful of hunger & fullness cues and listening to your body… however, if you find yourself constantly thinking about “being mindful” or catch yourself becoming obsessive about what you’re eating, take a step back. Eating shouldn’t be all about restriction but rather on the experience and active enjoyment of the foods you are eating, However, it is also extremely important to be forgiving of yourself, even if you go back to your old ways, remember: one step at a time — you are still learning and that’s okay!

Intuitive eating is no easy feat and can often be challenging to navigate on your own. Check out this blog on intuitive eating to learn more.

If you want to get help with how to deal with the pressure of the holidays, before or after, let’s chat. You can book your free call to find out if we’re a good fit and what packages I have for you. 

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Blog Contributor

This blog was written with the help of UBC nutition student, Gilbert.

References: 

“Intuitive and Mindful Eating: Improve Your Relationship with Food” [Nov. 1st, 2019] https://nutrifoodie.ca/2018/08/25/intuitive-and-mindful-eating-improve-your-relationship-with-food/

“How to Practice Mindful Eating using the Hunger Scale” [Nov. 1st, 2019] https://nutrifoodie.ca/2019/02/20/how-to-practice-mindful-eating-using-the-hunger-scale/

“Fighting Fatphobia” [Nov. 1st, 2019]
https://nutrifoodie.ca/2019/02/08/fighting-fatphobia/