‘Tis The Season: 9 Nutrition Reminders For The Holidays
My food and body struggles used to skyrocket during the holidays.
I’d skip meals out of sheer panic, knowing I’d inevitably binge on cookies, cakes, pies, and other treats.
I’d drastically increase the frequency and duration of my workouts in an effort to compensate for extra calories, even though it made me completely miserable.
And I’d find myself in a perpetual state of anxiety, knowing I’d be bombarded with body comments from people I hadn’t seen in a long time.
I’m finally at peace with the holidays, but it took a long time to get here. If you’re still struggling to shift your mindset to a more positive place, read on for nine holiday nutrition reminders I could’ve used back then – and still rely on to this day.
- Try not to skip meals.
This is particularly important if you struggle with regular binge eating or overeating episodes. Skipping meals – whether in anticipation of a binge or in an attempt to compensate for one that already happened – only makes things worse.
Rather than perpetuating the binge/restrict cycle, commit to staying properly nourished and eating a meal every few hours so your hunger levels stay relatively steady and under control.
This might mean eating when you’re not physically hungry, and that’s OK. Being proactive with your nutrition could be the difference between spiraling and thriving.
- It’s OK to decline dessert.
The holidays are accompanied by a plethora of sweet treats, but you aren’t obligated to eat them – and you don’t need to explain yourself for politely declining.
What you choose to eat is nobody else’s business, and these decisions ultimately come down to your goals, your intentions, and how you want to feel.
It’s OK to eat dessert, and it’s OK to not eat dessert. As long as you’re happy with your decision, there’s no need to explain or analyze it any further.
- Take a beat.
Food is everywhere during the holidays. Before you reach for something to eat just because it’s there, take a beat.
Cultivating the pause between urge and action can create space for you to make intentional food choices that align with your values and prevent you from eating impulsively.
Skip foods you aren’t particularly excited about, and make space for the ones you genuinely enjoy.
- Focus on what you can add, rather than on what you think you should restrict.
Protein, vegetables, and fruit deserve a place on your holiday plate, as do complex carbs (e.g., potatoes, rice) and healthy fats (e.g., avocado, olive oil).
Rather than neglecting the staples to make room for decadent holiday dishes and treats, adopt an abundance mindset. By allowing yourself to have both, you’ll enjoy a better eating experience without sacrificing nutrition or fun.
- Guilt is not a side dish.
Give yourself unconditional permission to eat and fully enjoy your food. Feeling guilty and anxious about what you’ve eaten takes away from the experience. Even worse? These emotions perpetuate the negative thought patterns that often lead to disordered eating behaviors.
- Holiday foods aren’t now or never.
When you anticipate or plan for certain foods to be unavailable in the future, you’re much more likely to binge on them. And while it’s true that holiday foods tend to be seasonal, there’s no rule that forbids you from enjoying them throughout the year.
Acknowledging this is a powerful way to calm the intensity of your cravings and shed the scarcity mindset that tricks you into thinking you can only have Pfeffernüsse at Christmas.
- Overeating isn’t the end of the world.
Taking a few extra bites – or heck, an extra slice – of something delicious is your prerogative. It’s normal to eat past the point of fullness every once in a while, especially during the holidays. Accept responsibility for your choices and move on.
Even if your overeating wasn’t intentional, there’s no need to ruminate over the extra calories. Consistency trumps everything, and a single day of eating can’t ruin an otherwise healthy and balanced diet.
- Keep food remarks to yourself.
Unless you’re commenting on how delicious something is or asking for a recipe, there’s no place for judgemental remarks about other people’s food choices.
Stress is already heightened around the holidays for people with a tenuous relationship with food. Family, friends, and strangers drawing attention to their issues is the last thing they need.
The same thing goes for comments about other people’s bodies. Positive and negative body talk – whether it’s geared towards yourself or someone else – can really drag people down. There are so many more interesting things to talk about, anyways.
- Food isn’t everything.
Food is an incredibly important and meaningful part of the human experience – and the holidays – but it’s not the end-all-be-all.
Remind yourself what this time of year truly means to you and focus on what you value most in life (e.g. connecting time with loved ones) to get the most out of the next several weeks.