Holiday Thriving Guide

Christmas, Eating

We know the holidays can be an incredibly stressful time for so many. Unfortunately, one of the biggest stressors people face during this time of year is around food and appearance. So while ideally, this season would be a time for us to focus on connections, relationships, and celebratory experiences; we can acknowledge that this is not often the case.

To help you get through this time of year with self-compassion and hopefully less focus on food and body, we wanted to share some helpful tips to make your holiday season a more enjoyable one:

1 – Prepare & Set Yourself Up for Success

  • Create a self-care plan: As the day is beginning, ask yourself how you want to feel throughout the day and during the gathering. Allow yourself time to remind  yourself what you want to get out of the event
  • Eat throughout the day; do not skip meals or restrict food groups in anticipation – eat all meals as you typically would
  • Give yourself full permission to enjoy all of the food without labeling it as “good” or “bad”   or “healthy” or “unhealthy” (you are not doing anything wrong by eating delicious food)
  • Try to get adequate sleep (if possible – we know this can be a privilege for some)
  • Wear clothing that makes you feel good and are comfortable to be in – if you go into a situation wearing something that is uncomfortable; you might not be able to be fully present or enjoy yourself
  • Check-in with how you’re feeling and what you need to start your day on the best foot possible – engage in joyful movement ( moving your body in a way that feels good and brings you joy), meditation or relaxation practices, lounging around watching TV or reading, giving/receiving hugs from loved ones, reaching out to your support system, etc.

2 – Create and Express Your Boundaries with Your Loved Ones

  • Communicate your needs/desires to a trusted family member or friend
  • Ask for support
  • State that you do not want to participate or engage in conversations about food, diet, or physical appearances
  • Excuse yourself to take a breather (go outside, talk to someone, listen to music, put something cold on your face or back of your neck and breathe, take a walk)
  • Set time limits on your visit or event (ex: dinner will be from 5 pm-9 pm)
  • Give yourself permission to stay home 

3 – Focus on the Moment, Activity, Memory You are Creating

  • If you notice yourself focusing on food and/or your body, just remind yourself about where you are, who you are with, and why you are there (sometimes it can be helpful to just say to yourself, “This doesn’t matter RIGHT NOW”)
  • When you reflect back on the day, what would you like to be able to remember? Will it be what you ate/didn’t eat or how your body looked? 

4 – Allow Room for Self-Compassion and Grace

  • Your feelings are valid; when you notice judgments about the food, your body, others’ bodies, etc. don’t judge your judging! Just notice them and re-direct yourself; again checking in with what’s REALLY important to you about the event or situation you’re in.

Food is tradition. Food is culture. Food is celebration. Food is energy. Food is necessary. Food is love. Food is connection. Food is delicious! Your body is working FOR you and working WITH you always to the best of its abilities. See if you can find ways to recognize these truths while honoring where you currently are.

At The New Beginnings Center, we practice Intuitive Eating* and follow the Health at Every Size* mentality. We proudly reject diet culture and strive to help our clients do so as well. If you or someone you know struggles with their relationship to food and/or body, please do not hesitate to reach out to us! We are here to help. 

For more information about both, go to www.intuitiveeating.com and www.lindobacon.com.

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Written for The New Beginnings Center by:
 Aimee Hammond, MS, RD
Alexis Forrey, LMFT
Sarah Barrett Lepore, MA, LPC

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