This article shares 5 tips for a healthy relationship with food during the holidays, and how you can let go of the food guilt and enjoy yourself.
This post was originally published on December 12th, 2019, and has since been updated.
There was a point in my life, not so long ago when I was just starting my health journey. I was counting every calorie and I would often feel guilty when I went over the set amount. The holidays are hard when there is an abundance of food especially when you have very little self-control when it comes to your eating habits.
This year I decided to change my mindset altogether, and make a conscious effort to have a healthier relationship with food.
As a result, I am much more aware of certain foods I need to avoid, not because of how many calories it has but instead how the food makes me feel. I’ve also learned a few tips recently that have helped me stay healthy and happy over the holidays.
I wanted to share my newfound appreciation of mindset with you, so here are my 5 secrets to staying on track and feeling good from the inside out.
5 Tips for a Healthy Relationship with Food During the Holidays
As I said, the holidays can be tough for a lot of people. But I’m hoping that will change, and you’ll have a better relationship with food so you can focus on the things that matter the most during the holidays.
That being said, I hope these tips will encourage and help your relationship with food as long as you need it. I think these are also mindset changes you can use regardless of the situation or holiday.
Drink to your health
Alcohol intakes mount during the holidays, with office parties, family get together’s and seeing old friends. It’s also totally avoidable, sober curious is very real and a culture I’ve also explored. But if you do drink, drink to your health not to get drunk.
Follow the old rule if you drink alcohol, one glass of water per beverage. Not that it should matter but I prefer to eat my calories vs drinking them.
For example, did you know that a glass of eggnog is about 500 calories? and beer, wine, and mixed drinks can be anywhere from 150 – 300. I’m much happier sipping on Seltzer or water with lemon and one your future self will thank you for (no hangovers).
Have you tried this healthy smoothie recipe yet?
Don’t put a Label on Foods
Cauliflower isn’t the cure-all for weight loss, and a plate of mashed potatoes isn’t going to ruin you. You don’t need to beat yourself up when it comes to practicing a healthy relationship with food. Because no portion or food type will make you go off track, however eating that food consistently just might!
So eat in moderation.
I’ll be honest, I’ve struggled with negative thought patterns a lot when it comes to food and body image. I’ve often caught myself thinking “I’ve ruined the day by eating (whatever food it was)” or “I shouldn’t have eaten that” and spiraling thinking the worst.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Recently I started practicing mindful eating and avoided labeling foods good or bad. Instead, I focused on foods that made me feel good and I avoided foods that made me feel sluggish or gave me brain fog. In turn, I have a lot more freedom when it comes to eating healthy during the holidays.
There may be certain dietary exemptions you should be keeping an eye on. But If you’re like me and you feel sluggish and gross after having dairy then you should probably avoid dairy. But we are lucky to live in a very Almond-friendly age where we do have options.
TIP: I totally carry natural sweeteners with me so I can avoid refined sugars. You can also do this with many other kinds of foods, just take a look around the grocery store.
Along with the subject of knowing your own body and your relationship with food, it’s also helpful to have a vision of the person you want to be. In other words, what the best version of yourself looks and feels like, and ask yourself these three questions.
- How would you nourish your body?
- How would you treat your body?
- What foods would you eat?
From that point, you can decide what foods you will eat to nourish your body, rather than labeling them good or bad.
Bring a Healthy Dish and Be Prepared
If you’re invited to a holiday party or a family dinner, bring a healthy dish with you. My family is at the point where they understand my eating habits and have encouraged my healthy relationship with food.
They make my favorite salads, barbecued chicken, or roasted vegetables. But if we go somewhere else I like to be prepared.
Which sometimes means a simple “clean” dish and other times it’s a bottle of organic wine. Never be afraid to ask what’s being served, planning is the key to success.
Also, I understand sometimes it’s not possible to bring a dish, instead plan ahead. If you haven’t eaten before a big dinner or party, make yourself a meal. Bring a meal or pack yourself a small snack. The trick is to make things easier for you, and not to overthink it.
Don’t Worry So Much
It’s the holidays and maybe this year you can get your family in on your new healthy lifestyle changes. Encourage them to take a walks to see lights around your neighborhood. You can even take the kids out skating or sleigh riding. Finding something fun to do will also make some wonderful memories and you’ll create a healthy, happy environment in turn.
Just remember, the only thing you can really do is stay on your routine as much as possible. Try to get in some form of exercise but also don’t stress about it or what you’re going to be eating. Trust me, I’ve been that girl who was constantly weighing my meals. I was on my phone inputting everything I ate and looking back I hated how I felt. Remember the goal is to be consistently happy and healthy in whatever that means to you.
Before you go here I just finished reading Food Freedom by Mellissa Hartwig, and thought I’d share it because it really helped me see past my issues with food.
Also, please note if you or someone you know has an eating disorder there is help and you can find a contact here on this list.