During the holidays many of us feel a lot of conflicting emotions around eating.
On one hand, we may feel frustrated because progress with weight loss slows down.
On the other hand, many of us feel like we don’t want to be counting calories, recording our food, or “obsessing about what we eat.”
We may feel like, “It’s the holidays! I should be able to relax and enjoy myself and not even be thinking about losing weight.”
I am the first to admit it; watching what you eat and/or trying to lose weight over the holidays is HARD!
But take heart. There is a skill to healthy eating that you can employ even at the hardest times.
So, I have some tips for those of you that are struggling right now, dab-smack in the middle of the holiday season.
And these are tips that can help you going forward. But be patient with yourself.
Many of us have years of an unhealthy relationship with food. Give yourself some time to learn to put these tips into practice regularly.
Remember that healthy eating is a skill that takes time to develop!
Here they are:
- Allow yourself to be imperfect
- Be okay with “maintaining” when you need to
- Approach each meal with love for yourself
- Look for things that make you feel good
I will go into more detail about each of these tips. I recommend you spend some time thinking about each and every one. Take some notes. What is coming up for you? How many of these tips can apply right now?
Allow Yourself to Be Imperfect
I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but you are NOT PERFECT.
Phew, that should feel like a relief.
I’m not perfect either. None of us are.
So, let’s stop trying to be perfect around eating and then beating ourselves up for making mistakes.
I am giving you permission to make mistakes. Okay?
The coolest thing in the world is that once we allow ourselves to make mistakes, and even come to expect them, then that frees us up to learn from them.
If you are sitting there berating yourself for screwing up how can you learn?
It’s much more productive to say, “Hey, I did something that is not in my own best interest. But that is in the past.”
And guess what? You can’t change the past. I know. We sure wish we could. But it’s not possible.
So it’s okay to let your past transgressions go. Let them fly away like little birds.
And you can continue by saying to yourself, “What can I learn about myself from that?” Write it down.
When you are learning from your mistakes, that is what we call “growing”. And with growth comes change and improvement. Yay!
Be Okay With Maintaining for a Little While
Luckily, most of us will be just fine if we stray off the path to weight loss and healthy living for a week or two.
Yes, you may not lose weight. Yes, you may even gain a pound or two.
But I’m also giving you permission to do that.
Eating well and sticking to eating well even during the holidays is a skill. It takes time to develop. You are practicing. If you were a master at it you wouldn’t be reading this article (most likely).
So, just remember, you’ll have plenty of time to get back on track soon. For now, cut yourself some slack.
Approach each meal with love for yourself
What does this mean?
Next time you approach a meal, rather than thinking, “Oh, I can’t eat this and I better watch that.”, how about thinking, “What is the most loving thing I can do for myself right now?”
Eating a meal out of love for yourself is the act of being kind, compassionate, and curious about the meal and yourself.
Eating a meal out of love is about allowing yourself to be who you are right now and accepting yourself 100%.
Sometimes it comes easy to nourish your body with healthy foods. Other times it’s less easy. That’s normal!
In this moment, what choices can you make that are most loving?
Maybe you pay more attention to the food.
Maybe you savor every bite?
Maybe you think strategically and choose the foods you are most excited about and you leave the rest.
Eating a meal with full love for yourself means different things to each person and it can change from one meal to the next even with the same person.
Just ask yourself, the question, “What I can do right now that is most loving to me?”
The honest answer is the right answer. Just let it be what it is.
Look for things that make you feel good
Sometimes food makes us feel good.
Food is one of life’s great pleasures. But only if we savor it.
If we are scarfing down the food mindlessly because we drank too much alcohol, we’re bored, we’re stressed, or we just aren’t paying attention, that is not a pleasurable experience.
And in the end, it makes us feel worse.
So, how do we feel good?
By being committed to feeling good above all else.
Feeling resentful, stressed, worried, defeated, or any other negative emotion we engage in regularly can be addictive.
We get used to feeling bad.
Yes, you may be “justified” in feeling bad but does it really serve you?
I can guess it does not.
In order to live a truly successful life we have to be committed to feeling good and we have to actively seek out thoughts that make us feel good.
Again, this is a habit that you have to develop. It doesn’t happen overnight.
Every time you find yourself slipping into a negative mindset that simply does not serve you, take a moment to ask yourself if that mindset is helping you eat better or worse.
Most likely, worse!
Now that you know that those negative thoughts are not serving you how can you get yourself out of that downward spiral?
By looking for a thought that makes you feel a little better.
It doesn’t have to be the most beautiful thought in the world, just something to help you feel better.
What is in front of you that you can appreciate right now?
I always recommend finding things about yourself that you can appreciate like the health that you DO have or all of the wonderful things that your body does for you every day.
Or maybe you can focus on something in nature that is beautiful or you can just look over at your dog and appreciate that she is always there for you.
It doesn’t matter what it is, what matters is that you are looking for a thought that will make you feel a little bit better.
And from there, maybe you can find another thought that helps you feel even a little better.
Keep going with those thoughts.
Distract yourself from those negative thoughts that are not serving you anyway.
Again, this is a habit and really it is a skill.
There is a fine line between eating nutritious foods that nourish your body and getting obsessed about being a perfect eater.
There is a fine line between effortlessly eating well out of self-love and feeling like you HAVE TO eat well in order to reach a goal.
There is a fine line between striving and thriving.
Striving means you are actively seeking to be better and do better. Thriving means appreciating all of the efforts you have made and all of the beautiful things that you have already done to practice self-care.
Walking that fine line takes practice.
Keep at it because this is the most important thing you can practice in your life and it’s okay if it takes time to consistently be really good at it.
All you can ask of yourself is that you give your best effort at that moment.
And be “in love” with YOU!