How to Fight Food Guilt at Christmas
Food is such a large part of the festive season, as we’re brought together over warming drinks and hearty meals. Although the festive period brings joy and celebration for many, for some of us it brings anxiety and guilt around quantities of food and drink.
Alice Clarke, a Registered Associate Nutritionist and Founder of ARC Nutrition, kindly shares some of her key mindset changes to help navigate the Christmas table whilst minimising the feelings of shame and guilt implemented by a few mindset changes:
“Feelings of guilt surrounding festive food are often exacerbated by the media listing the calories in our favourite treats or how many burpees we need to do to burn off those creamy cocktails.
………Food shame and guilt is unfortunately not just reserved for the festive period. However, there is something about Christmas which seems to make these feelings more pronounced. Coupled with the impending January ‘new year, new me’ pressure and it can trigger some extreme reactions around food.”
Tune into your body
If you find the Christmas a stressful time, it is more important than ever to tune into those internal cues. The feelings of hunger, fullness and satisfaction.
Before you begin eating, take some time to assess those feelings. With this, it is important to take it meal-by-meal and remove what is known as the ‘last supper’ mentality.
Working on continually tuning in to your body and overcoming the ‘all or nothing’ feeling can help prevent one ‘bad’ meal unleashing the food shame and guilt you have worked so hard to eliminate.
Give yourself permission to eat and enjoy
Research shows that banning your favourite festive treats is more likely to cause cravings to increase.
No single food is unhealthy or will cause weight gain, there is room for all foods in our diets. Try and pinpoint what festive foods you consider unhealthy and why you have this mindset. Then work to remove this filter, allowing yourself to eat for satisfaction.
It is also important not to succumb to the ‘saving’ mindset; saving up your calories by skipping breakfast or lunch. This can backfire as the resulting extreme hunger can reduce the enjoyment of eating and make it more difficult to stop eating when you feel full.
Quit the January diet mentality
With the ‘new year, new me’ mindset, it is easy to rely on a January diet or cleanse. The impacts of this are that, even subconsciously, you know that restriction is on the horizon. The body responds to this pre-empted starvation, resulting in the feeling of being out of control around food.
This is one of the core reasons why restrictive diets don’t work, at Christmas or any other time of year.
Boundaries are a common feature of the festive period. But, this year we’re talking about boundaries on conversation topics, not food!
Spending time with friends and family, particularly when accompanied by food, can open up the floor for discussions around diet and weight. These conversations can be triggering even for the most grounded of individuals.
Set boundaries with yourself and family to allow you to enjoy the holiday in a relaxed way. If the conversation becomes too much, simply excuse yourself from the moment and find a quiet place to regroup. You have the right to set these boundaries to protect yourself during this time.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that the festive period is a joyful time of the year. Not a time to be stressing over food. Implementing some of these tips will help you find a happy balance and start to remove the feelings of food shame and guilt, not just for Christmas, but for life.”
If you are looking for more support on how to banish feelings of food guilt and shame from your life for good, make sure to seek the support of a Registered Nutritionist or Dietician.
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