As Thanksgiving Break quickly approaches, it is important to go in with the right headspace to make sure you are making choices that benefit your mental and physical health.
The holiday season is a constant flow of celebrations and events surrounding food, which can lead to unhealthy extremes of binge eating and restriction.
Oftentimes people, whether they are struggling with disordered eating or not, can slip into bad habits surrounding the holidays. Comments from family members and friends on what you’re eating and how much of it, as well as changes in your body from last holiday season only make this worse.
Here are some tips to get you through the holiday season:
1. Stop Labeling Foods as Good and Bad
When we label foods as “good” and “bad” we create a barrier of mental restriction that our subconscious picks up on. So, when we eat those “bad” foods we feel like we have to punish ourselves or restrict ourselves, which can create a toxic cycle between restricting and bingeing. Remember that holiday foods can be had all year long, so there is no need to “stock up” on them and eat as much as you can before they “go away.”
2. Stick to Your Normal Eating Routine
It is easy to skip breakfast or lunch on holidays when we eat at different times and in larger quantities, but try to stay on your normal routine. Drinking water and eating balanced meals throughout the day, instead of saving up calories for the holiday meal, will prevent that binge-like meal. You will feel less out of control with food, and it will be easier on your body to digest, leaving you feeling better overall.
3. Don’t Let Others Comment on Your Weight or Food Choices
I know it’s easier than it sounds, but feeding into other people’s comments about your body and eating habits only makes it easier to fall into a toxic relationship with food. There are easy ways to shut down food commenters without making it awkward.
For example, if someone is commenting on your weight or how much food you are eating you could say:
“Thank you for your concern, but I actually know my body really well and this works for me.”
“You can’t live a full life on an empty stomach!”
“Yup! I gained a lot of memories and experiences with friends trying food this semester.”
“Yeah I’m really enjoying this pie right now! You should try some too!”
4. Remember to Stay Present
Although there are a lot of great foods to enjoy during the holidays, try to stay present. This is a chance for a lot of us to see family and friends we haven’t seen in a while. Focusing less on food will help you enjoy their presence and the activities you do together. Seeing family and friends can also be stress inducing for some people, so instead of turning to food try to genuinely feel your feelings. This could include taking space from others, going on a walk or run to clear your head, or journaling—do what works for you!
If you are struggling with healthy eating habits, you can find more help here:
NATIONAL EATING DISORDER ASSOCIATION HELPLINE
NEDA TREATMENT PROVIDERS