Fall has arrived and the holidays are fast approaching! While the coming months are meant to be a time for joyous celebrations, it can be difficult to navigate your relationship with food during the holiday season because sadly, diet culture doesn’t take off for the holidays. Add to the mix that family and friends perpetuate the claims of diet culture and you’ve got a recipe for a less-than-joyful holiday meal experience. In this blog we will cover 5 mindful eating tips to help you get in the holiday spirit.
How can we combat the lies of diet culture and swap them out for mindful eating during the holidays? Below you will find some tips for how to unapologetically enjoy holiday meals, instead of being in a diet mind-set or focusing on the loaded dieting statements of others.
5 Mindful Eating Tips to Enjoy Holiday Meals
1. Remind yourself that no food is off limits
The holidays bring a whole slew of seasonal foods to the table from “trick-or-treat” candy to thanksgiving stuffing and turkey to Christmas cookies or Hanukkah feasts (to name a few). While these foods are about celebration and joy, they can also invoke feelings of guilt when seen through a diet mindset. However, these foods, just like any other foods, should not be considered “bad” or “off limits''. Try to be proactive in combating food rules, self-imposed, or promoted by your family. While you might hear people say things like, “I can’t eat that pumpkin pie, it’s too bad for me!”, remember that foods don’t carry with them any moral value. All foods have a place in a balanced diet!
2. Remind yourself that it’s okay to eat food for the sake of enjoying it, even if others aren’t doing this
Understanding that no food should be “off limits” is a good first step, but what comes next? Feelings of “food guilt” run rampant during the holiday season, but the truth is, the purpose of food is not only to nourish our bodies but also to be enjoyed by the person eating! The holiday season brings a variety of unique and especially festive dishes, and it’s okay (and healthy!) to enjoy foods without restriction.
3. Listen to your body for mindful eating
It can be easy to compare your plate to your family members’ or your friend’s plates next to you (especially if they partake in diet culture), but just because someone is eating a certain way does not mean that their way is the only acceptable option. Instead of taking your cues from other people, listen to your hunger and fullness cues. Some other great ways to practice mindful eating during the holidays: Take your time, savoring each bite, and listen to your body to help you know when to stop eating (and when to eat again!).
4. Think about all the ways you are thankful for the holiday food in front of you
The diet mentality is hard to break, both internally and societally. It can be discouraging to hear loaded-dieting comments about you or other people’s eating habits, especially around a season where food should bring people together. Statements like, “that’s going straight to your hips!”, “We all should go on a run tomorrow to make up for all these calories!”, “We can cheat for just one day” are dripping with shame. How can we combat shame? With grace for yourself and people around you. Building up a more positive relationship with food is a process, and that’s okay. You may have a few bumps along the way, but celebrating your “wins” and extending grace to yourself (and others that still subscribe to a diet mentality) in the process is a great way to combat food-related guilt this holiday season.
5. Have grace for yourself (and others) as you try to practice mindful eating
When it comes to food, it’s easy to listen to all the comments from others (and even to our own negative thoughts) that produce shame and guilt. A good way to reinforce a mindful eating mentality is to talk back to our thoughts of shame and guilt by reminding ourselves of ways that we are thankful for the food in front of us. Remember, food nourishes us and is meant to be enjoyed. What’s on your plate? How can you be thankful for it and for the people that prepared it? When negative thoughts creep in, talk back to them with positive reinforcement like, “I need and deserve food”, “It’s okay to celebrate with a feast!”, and “These Christmas cookies are meant for eating!”
This is not medical advice, if you believe you may have an eating disorder, please seek help from a qualified medical professional and a registered dietitian. We would be honored to come alongside you as you navigate the holiday season. Please fill out our new client form to book an appointment.
Did we miss any holiday mindful eating tips? Let us know in the comments!