Part Two: The Holidays and Mindful Eating

The holidays are filled with special events, meals with friends and family, and many foods that seem specific to this time of year like hot chocolate and pumpkin pie. All this can make eating mindfully during this time sound incredibly challenging. Add to this, this is also a time of year where the messaging around food seems to shift rapidly from “treat yourself”, “indulge”, etc. to weight loss and diets as the new year approaches. Knowing this, how can we manage the holidays while eating mindfully? In part one of this post, I discussed my top four tips for navigating the holidays in a mindful way but this week, I want to get more food specific with you all.

One of the biggest food related challenges this time of year that there is so much food that we traditionally  feel we can “only” eat this time of year. Thinking of food this way tends to create a sense of restriction which for many of us, can lead to over indulging in these foods. The key to tackling this issue is reminding ourselves that while it can seem that we can only indulge in these foods for a limited period of time, in reality these foods are always available to us. Want hot chocolate or pumpkin pie? You actually can eat/make these foods any time of year! Reminding yourself that access to these foods is not actually limited to the time frame of October to January really does help to take away the need to over eat these foods during the holidays.

The other specific issue that often seems to come up is dealing with the number of meals with family and friends and holiday parties that go on this time of year. Simply put, there are a lot of opportunities to be around food (and likely diet talk!) Many people find their biggest struggle with this is dealing with people trying to push food on them or commenting what they chose to eat or not eat. This means we have to be willing to set some boundaries with loved ones which is difficult. I want to empower you to speak up for yourself and set some boundaries if needed. (Again, see part one of this post for more tips around this).

Another struggle many people experience with these gatherings is the idea that you need to eat less throughout the day in order to “make up” for what you will eat at the holiday meal, party etc. I’ve found the opposite is actually most helpful. Eating in a normal way throughout the day seems to make these gatherings less of a reason to over eat/binge because we haven’t been depriving ourselves all day!

The other thing I think it’s important to talk about when we talk about food and the holidays is that the normal considerations still apply! All those mindful eating tools you’ve been learning? Continue to use them! Continue to check in around hunger and fullness, reject the diet mentality, develop a sense of satisfaction with food etc. The holidays are special but they don’t have to negatively impact our relationship with food or the skills we are working on developing.

Questions about eating intuitively during the holidays or anything else related to food or body image? Feel free to get in touch!