The holidays are full of love, joy, and lots of food. With time, it seems that the latter garners more and more attention. The way in which we navigate these celebrations often promote disordered eating, and proves and extremely difficult time for those that already struggle with these types of issues.
The Holiday Schemes
From Thanksgiving all the way through the New Year it seems that everything revolves around food. Whether it’s over-indulging, burning it off, or avoiding it altogether the feasts never end.
While this isn’t really what the holidays are or should be about, it’s unavoidable nonetheless.
Family members and friends make comments about how certain foods and eating habits are “bad” and how holiday calories “don’t count,” but this culture we create around food only worsens its impact.
Furthermore, the actions we partake in to navigate this misconstrued mindset deepen the issue as well. How many people do you know just don’t eat, or eat very little, until that days big holiday meal?
Not only does this perpetuate the idea that you have to “earn” food, but it also promotes a restrict and binge mentality.
If you allow yourself to get to a point of hunger where your blood sugar levels drop, you’ll crave unhealthier foods and also eat significantly more than your body actually needs.
Just Another Day
Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Years are all special occasions, don’t get me wrong. But, in the grand scheme of life, they really are just another day.
That being said, go about your normal eating schedule if you’d like or indulge in whatever tasty treats are being served.
Don’t feel obligated to eat certain foods just because they’re sitting in front of you either. Gingerbread, pumpkin pie, and champagne are all available the other 364 days of the year too.
Additionally, eating one food or not eating another doesn’t indicate anything about your worth. Labeling foods as “good” and “bad” is extremely damaging.
This is how the holiday season goes: we “give up” from Thanksgiving until January. Then, we collectively decide to finally get a gym membership and start that diet that will make us who we want to be.
Navigating our lives in this way is extremely problematic for a plethora of reasons.
First of all, you are worthy regardless of your weight and what you eat. Hold that truth with you forever.
Second, you should always invest time into your physical and emotional health, not just after some societally-perpetuated date of when we all decide to “try” for a couple weeks.
You deserve self-love 365 days of every single year, not just for the first few weeks.
Such dramatic shifts in lifestyle simply aren’t sustainable either. More or less, jumping into a new diet fad after the first of the year is just another form of the restrict and binge in which people participate in during the holidays.
You also don’t need to punish yourself for eating delicious food over the holiday season and enjoying your time with family and friends.
Everything you do in regard to your body and mind should come from a place of love. Whether that’s embarking on a new fitness plan or having a slice of pie.
Instead of thinking of the food you need to avoid or the weight you may or may not gain during, re-frame your mindset into different losses and gains.
Imagine all of the valuable family time you lose due to food or weight gain pre-occupations.
Think of the great memories you gain from re-aligning your values from food-stress to time spent with loved ones.
Food isn’t meant to be demonized or praised. It’s there as an accessory to our lives which are filled with so much more. None of this means looking forward to and enjoying holiday goodies is bad, but they definitely shouldn’t define the season.
Enjoy the food, by all means, but don’t let it control you.
If you feel uncomfortable around friends or family engaging in destructive conversations around food and body image, simply re-direct their focus as well. You reserve the right to remove yourself from any conversations that compromise your self-worth.
If you struggle with disordered eating patterns during the holiday season, or anytime, know that you aren’t alone.
Many individuals find holiday eating difficult whether they normally struggle with disordered eating or not.
Confide in those around you for support and know that you are always loved and hold value beyond measure.
Visit the National Eating Disorders website for continued support and resources for assistance including their hotline: (800) 931-2237
Cover image via Walden Eating Disorders Treatment
Also published on Medium.