With 4th of July right around the corner, we are here to remind you that shifting the focus off of our bodies and onto celebrating is an intention worth nurturing – no matter what the holiday! We know that holidays can be challenging for some; not everyone feels joyful and connected during these times. It’s important to remember that feelings of disconnection can intensify the hyperfocus on food and body for people struggling with eating disorders.
This post, written and submitted by Rui Tanimura, offers 7 concrete tips for holiday eating that nourishes mind, body, and soul. Rui is a graduate student at Simmons University in Boston, Massachusetts, specializing in the treatment of eating disorders and entrepreneurship in their MS/DI program. Additional interests within this field includes Asian American mental health and yoga therapy. Connect with Rui on Instagram at @rui_tani and @hello_culturd or on her shared website https://helloculturd.wixsite.com/mysite.
How many times have you heard a New Year’s resolution about going on so-and-so diet, or losing X amount of weight?
Probably too many times. This mentality ties into the binge-and-deprive cycle that often punctuates the holiday season. First comes the emphasis on over-imbibing holiday food, then comes the guilt and determination to “work it off.”
So how can we leave the table or party feeling comfortable and joyful, instead of overly stuffed and guilty? Here are seven ways to say “no thank you” to holiday food guilt, and savor the spirit of the season instead:
1. Give yourself year-round permission to eat what you want
No miracle fasts or juice cleanses necessary! On the contrary: Allow yourself to eat all of your favorite foods – of any amount – at any time. Trying to avoid your favorite holiday foods actually causes more cravings rather than decreasing them, which is an accidental setup to overeating these foods.
2. Practice mindfulness
By practicing mindfulness when you eat, you give yourself a chance to slow down and enjoy the whole experience, thereby reducing the compulsion to overeat.
Try these mindful exercises:
- Gratitude: You could say a brief statement of gratitude out loud before eating, such as, “I am grateful for the farmers who grew this food and the loved ones who prepared it.”
- Unplug: Eliminate distractions such as your phone. This will allow you to be more mindful with each bite.
3. Try not to skip meals
Skipping meals will leave you even hungrier than usual, thereby setting yourself up to over-eat. Instead, try to eat frequently throughout the day. Whether it’s three solid meals or an addition of more nourishing snacks, see what works for your unique body.
4. Check in with yourself
Before digging into a delicious holiday meal, pause and ask yourself how hungry you feel. Sometimes, rating your hunger or fullness on the following scale from one to five helps:
1- I could eat a whole country
5- Uncomfortably stuffed
5. Remove labels
Do your best to remove “good/bad,” or “right/wrong” labels on food. Remember: No one single meal, snack, or type of food/beverage will make you healthy or unhealthy! If someone questions your food choices, remember – it’s often less about you, and more about themselves. Thank them for their concern, and continue eating whatever delicious treat you’d planned to eat!
6. Fill your feed with body positivity
If you’re feeling down, but aren’t mentally in a place where you can to reach out to a loved one, try tuning into encouraging words instead.
Try listening to these podcasts or following these Instagram accounts:
- Food Psych with Christy Harrison
- The BodyLove Project with Jessi Haggerty
- RD Real Talk with Heather Caplan
7. Build a fun, satisfying plate
This will look different for everyone, so remember not to compare your choices with others. Try to include most food groups: Protein, carbohydrates, fats – and, of course, everyone’s favorite, unofficial “food group” of dessert!
So few holiday tips focus on actually making sure you’re enjoying the people you’re with – and creating precious, holiday memories. The holidays are not the only time you can have cookies or pie. You have full permission to eat your favorites whenever you want. Learn to truly enjoy the time with our loved ones, by nourishing our internal emotional and physical needs!