’Tis the season! It’s about that time where I get lots questions about how best to eat for the upcoming celebrations; how to “not cheat on diets,” “stay trim through the holidays,” “beat the holiday bloat,” etc.
Here’s my advice:
Don’t worry about it.
Yes. Truly. Don’t worry about it. And the reason I encourage people to not worry about it, is because worrying about it does more harm than good.
When we deprive ourselves of something that we’ve been waiting all year for (Starbuck’s Cranberry Bliss Bar - I’m lookin’ at you!), it just makes us want it more. And because we’re human, we respond to that want in ways that might not be great for us. Such as:
- Creating or adding onto anxiety and fear around food
- Feeling ashamed or guilty about food, body image and subsequently, ourselves
- Enjoying the holidays less, and that sucks because they only come around once per year.
- Increasing the risk of binge-eating and other disordered eating behaviors.
- Diet-cycling, which puts cardiovascular and immune health at risk.
So with that said, think of "not-worrying" as a preventative measure for the above. Give yourself permission to enjoy holiday food without guilt and shame. Have that Cranberry Bliss Bar and your best friend’s famous cheesy bread. Make your mom’s holiday cookies and have as much as you want. You get the idea. Here’s why it’s worth it:
- You’ll have fun at all the holiday parties.
- You’ll eat great food because holiday food kicks ass.
- You’ll have more opportunities to connect with loved ones over food.
- You’ll be super radical and counter-culture amongst all the dieters.
- You deserve it. Everyone deserves to enjoy the holidays.
And if you’re worried about what will happen to your body, here’s what I have to say:
It’s just food. Your body will be fine. It’s really smart and it knows what to do so put some trust in it.
(Now, if you have an allergy or sensitivity to a certain food, you can still have holiday food while honoring your body's needs. The point is - give yourself permission to enjoy!)
I hope that’s helpful. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments or thoughts - I respond to every message. Chat with you soon!
Mindy is a Nutritionist and Therapist based out of Seattle, where her practice specializes in helping people find peace with food and their body. She lives with her husband in Seattle, WA and watches lots of television.
(Also, she has no idea how to make this picture smaller so if anyone knows....)