Practicing Food Freedom during the holidays can almost seem like it’s an oxymoron. It’s a time of year when we’re thrown off of our normal routine with holiday parties, indulgent foods, drinking, and so many people engaging in diet talk about how “bad” they’re being. This is a topic we’ve been chatting about over on my (new!) Food & Fitness Freedom Facebook Group, and it made me think this was the perfect time to share some more of my thoughts on how to navigate Food Freedom during the holiday season.
(I realize this post would’ve been better timed if I shared a month+ ago, but better late than never, right?)
Focus on the true meaning of the holidays.
Yeah yeah yeah, Jesus is the reason for the season, we know. But seriously, if you’ve been dieting for any given amount of time, the holidays can quite literally become all about the food. It’s kind of sad/silly when you think about, isn’t it? Before going into a holiday-related situation, take just 5 minutes and set your intentions. Of course it’s still wonderful to enjoy all of the food & drink, but try to also focus on how great it will be to spend time with your loved ones, or maybe even strike up a conversation with someone new. It’s also a great time to reflect on this past year and practice gratitude.
Once you have set those intentions, you’ll probably notice that a lot of the fear you’ve had surrounding the holidays has been replaced with a sense of peace, and (good news) being in a state of peace and calmness is the perfect set up for practicing Food Freedom.
If you’ve been dieting, oftentimes just being around indulgent foods can give a sense of uneasiness and being frantic, and even if you’ve been practicing Food Freedom those old habits will try to rear their ugly head. If and when that happens, take another step back. Breathe. And slow. The F. Down. The food isn’t going anywhere. You can eat as much or as little as you want depending on how it tastes and how hungry you are. But it’s only when you’ve allowed yourself to slow down and actually enjoy the meal that you’ll be able to tune in to your body & mind and recognize those things.
Remember that dieting eventually backfires.
I don’t know about you, but any time I’ve tried to be healthy or restrict in any shape or form around the holidays, it eventually backfired on me. Whether it was at the dessert table or even weeks later, any sort of restriction left me feeling like I “missed out” and wanted to make up for it, and ironically I’d end up eating more and feeling even worse than if I just ate whatever I wanted in the first place.
Take a look back at previous holiday seasons when you tried to diet your way through. Did it work? Were you happy? If your answer is no, why not try something new? May I challenge you to try trusting yourself this holiday season, instead of relying on any set of food rules? A few indulgent meals are not the end of the world. Even genuinely overeating is not a setback, it’s part of being human. If it happens, which it mostly likely well throughout the rest of your life, simply accept it and move on. I’d argue that dwelling on overeating is even more unhealthy than those extra sugar cookies.
Have a list of truths/whys.
Sticking to the Food Freedom lifestyle can be especially difficult when there’s diet talk all around you. Our society is so obsessed with body image and dieting that it has almost become a go-to talking point. But instead of letting it upset or sway you, instead make it a point to know your truths and use them to brush away the negative diet talk the moment you hear it.
As an example, here are some of my truths/whys. I encourage you to come up with your own that you can hold onto during the holidays and beyond. Maybe even write these on a small piece of paper to carry around for when you need the reminders.
Dieting has never worked for me in the past. Remember how it eventually made me feel.
I don’t want to spend the rest of my life focusing on food during the holidays.
The real victory is knowing I felt free enough to eat whatever I wanted without an ounce of guilt.
Having complete Food Freedom is genuinely so much more satisfying than a few “good days” of dieting.
I might overeat, and that’s okay. It is simply a choice and does not define me.
I want to be an example to show others what Food Freedom looks like.
The things we think and say to ourselves can very easily become our reality, so it’s important to take control of those thoughts rather than letting everyone else’s chatter sway you out of your freedom.
Ditch the “last supper” mentality.
Guess what? I’m giving you 100% permission to NOT have to “start over” on January 1st.
Doesn’t that feel good? 😉 What also feels good is that once you’ve given up on the dieting cycle, you’re no longer left with the urge to eat all the things because you’re not thinking about how you’re going to be depriving yourself soon-after. This ties back into how important it is to slow down during your eating experiences rather than frantically shoving food in your mouth without giving it a second thought.
The funny thing is, you’ll find that food actually tastes better and is a much more joyful experience when there’s no “you’re being bad” attached to it. It’s not just about the taste/flavors/textures of the food (although, that’s pretty great too) – it’s that you’ve given yourself the mental and emotional freedom to enjoy the full experience of eating without any strings attached, knowing that you’ll be able to experience it again whenever you want…even after January 1st.
View this as an opportunity.
Whether you’re new to Food Freedom or have been on this journey for a while, the holiday season is an opportunity to strengthen those freedom muscles. It’s the times where life throws you off your normal routine that you can learn the biggest lessons about yourself, through both the victories but also the setbacks (so actually, even set backs can be worth celebrating!). Set your mind to coming out of this holiday season knowing that you finally did something different – whether it went “perfectly” or not – trusting that you’re on the right path to a lifestyle that is not only full of freedom, but one that you can genuinely maintain for the rest of your life.
I hope you’ve found these thoughts helpful in your own food freedom journey. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I highly suggest reading the books Intuitive Eating and Food Freedom Forever, as they have both truly helped shape my own journey. I’d also LOVE to have you join the Food & Fitness Freedom Group on Facebook where we’re building an amazing community of likeminded gals discussing all sorts of topics!
Please note that I am NOT a health/medical/mental expert, and this is just my own experience/opinions. Please seek a professional before making any changes to your health routine.
You might also like:
The Best Part of Dieting
10 Healthy Habits That Have Changed My Life
My Story Of Discovering Healthy Living
I Stand For Food Freedom
Thoughts on “Getting Back on Track”
What Food Freedom Looks Like In My Life