Updated: Nov 25, 2020
The Holidays and a Healthy Relationship with Food - Mindfulpath
by, Taryn McPherson
The holidays are a stressful time. Food is a central part of the holiday season; this is one of the purposes of food - to be a source of joy, celebration, and connection. But if just the thought of food around the holidays is overwhelming and anxiety-producing, I encourage you to take a few moments to reconnect to your breath and remember the top tips I tell anyone who asks how to deal with all of the food during the holidays.
Remember that food has no morality. Food is not good or bad, and what you eat doesn’t make you good or bad. Everything you eat is providing your body with nutrients. This is probably one of the harder things for people to accept. Diet culture loves to tell us that our worth is dependent on the foods we choose to put in our bodies (spoiler alert: it’s not). If you struggle to buy into the fact that all food is nutritious, try reminding yourself that food is supposed to nourish both our body and our soul.
Allow yourself to enjoy the food. You do not have to “earn” your Thanksgiving meal (or any meal or snack, ever). Don’t skip meals or snacks leading up to holiday meals, eat as you normally would. If you go into a gathering or meal famished because you’ve “saved up” your calories all day you’re more likely to make choices you don’t feel good about. But even more importantly, when you reach that level of hunger it’s more difficult to be mindful, which means you won’t even get to fully taste and enjoy all that food you’ve been looking forward to.
Don’t lose the forest for the trees. If there happen to be no vegetables at Thanksgiving dinner, or if you have pie for breakfast, or if you don’t eat any whole grains that week, it’s really not a big deal. One meal, one day, one week is a small drop in the bucket. Nutrition is a big-picture art, but we often get stuck and anxious over the small details. What you’re doing regularly, all year long is far more important than what happens during the short holiday season.
Oftentimes this time of year exacerbates ongoing struggles with food, or may even bring up old struggles that you thought were resolved. Creating a healthy relationship with food is a journey with no endpoint, and just like any journey, there will be ups and downs. If you’re struggling, or you’re just ready to let go of the New Year’s Resolution diet cycle, give yourself the gift of support. All of us at Mindfulpath are here and ready to help.
All my best,