The end of the year can be a difficult time when struggling with diet culture or suffering from an eating disorder. Mindful eating helps us position ourselves between the extremes of excess and restrictiveness. It allows us to enjoy the festivities from a place of self-love, self-contemplation, and knowledge.
The Christmas season can be a difficult time if you have a history of struggling with diet culture, emotional bingeing, or an eating disorder. We’re faced with tricky situations like work events, family meals, and dinners with friends. And, Christmas is already a challenge for many people’s psyche.
One of the great temptations and easy outlets, although not the best option, is to transform holiday dishes into guilt-free foods using light ingredients, keto products, gluten-free items, etc. Why can this be counterproductive? Denying yourself access to what you like to eat during this celebratory season can lead you to feeling restricted and then binging. The other extreme is letting ourselves go during the holidays pushed by the ‘eat now, restrict later’ mentality. This is a very common mechanism in diet culture.
That is why it is very important to lean on tools that will help you get through your end-of-year celebrations. Mindful eating helps us position ourselves between the extremes of excess and restriction. It allows us to enjoy the festivities from a place of self-love, self-contemplation, and knowledge. Through an intuitive diet, we can eat all the food we want to and feel when we’ve had enough, getting a sense of satisfaction after each meal. We all deserve to experience pleasure through food, regardless of the size of our bodies.
1. Allow yourself to eat
Extremes are bad, whether you follow a strict diet or let go completely because you’ll ‘behave better’ in January. Try to eat in a conscious and connected way with yourself and your needs. During the holidays, don’t deprive yourself of anything, Give yourself permission to eat but first ask yourself if you really want it and how much you need.
2. Honor your hunger
If we come to meals too hungry, we’re likely to eat quickly. Honoring our hunger is a basic principle of mindful and intuitive eating. If you arrive at events with an urge to eat, you will not fully enjoy the food. The equation is very simple: urgent hunger + lots of food = overeating.
An apple or a handful of nuts may be enough to make sure that you arrive at a celebration with a controlled level of hunger that allows you to choose, eat well, and above all, enjoy. Never skip meals becasue you think you can balance out excesses. This is the worst mistake. Not only will you get very hungry and increase your chances of overeating, but you will slow down your metabolism since your body stores calories when it doesn’t know when you will feed it again. Skipping meals or over-exercising to compensate only perpetuates struggle and control with food. Listen to your body and follow your intuition.
3. Keep up with your self-care routines
Try to maintain your self-care routines over vacation days, both with meals and exercise. Taking care of yourself should be a constant even during vacation and the busy holiday season. Prioritizing time for ourselves can help us stay connected to our needs. Find activities that make you feel at peace and nurture you, such as taking a bike ride, watching a movie, taking a bubble bath, going for a walk, writing in a gratitude journal, meditating, reading a book, or listening to your favorite music.
Ask yourself: What are the minimum self-care requirements to keep my peace of mind these days? Self-care is a key part of intuitive eating, since it is easier to eat carefully when your inner world is in order. It is an effective mechanism for regulating stress and not using food to manage our emotions. The end of the year is a great time to set self-care intentions for the year ahead.
4. Be compassionate to yourself
Perhaps the most important point of all: be compassionate to yourself at the end of the year, which is generally very emotional and chaotic. Appreciate all the efforts that you’ve made during the year and continue to do. Practice gratitude for the food that nurtures your mind, body, and soul and for the memories you are creating this holiday season. Food is much more than fuel. It’s a way to unite and connect those we love. Remember to approach intuitive eating not from a place of perfectionism or judgment, but from love.