How to Ditch The Holiday Eating Stress

How much time do you spend thinking about food during the holidays? Does the dessert table trigger anxiety? Do you find yourself so distracted by the overwhelming amount of food choices that it’s difficult to stay present during conversations? While the holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate and be with the people you love, they can also bring up unchecked emotions around food, especially if you’re on a health journey. You might view the holidays themselves as the problem (damn you, sweet potato casserole, for being so irresistible!). Still, if you’re apprehensive about holiday eating, there could be a deeper issue with food that just surfaces a little extra this time of the year. 

So how do you enjoy your time this season without falling into a food-based guilt trap? Here are tips to shift your focus so that you can walk into holiday festivities with a calm sense of self. 

TIP #1: Prioritize connecting with others.  

Focus a little less on the cheese platter and a little more on what your cousin, whom you haven’t seen all year, is saying to you. This is the chance to get curious, and enjoy shooting the breeze. Consciously practice active listening: you’ll not only stop stressing out about the brie, but actually learn something new about your loved ones too.


TIP #2: Tune in to yourself. 

You know who you are, how you are, and what tendencies you have better than anyone else. This isn’t your first rodeo, so don’t walk into it backward and blindfolded—show up with realistic expectations of yourself. Do you always eat to the point of feeling uncomfortable? Do you guilt yourself for having an extra helping of green beans because of the crispy onion toppings? Know how you work and recognize the feelings attached to your actions before you ring the doorbell or set the table. Skip the platter of shame, and pass the bowl of self-compassion instead. Now’s the time to tune in and give yourself permission to break whatever food rules you may have set. 


TIP #3: Keep Moving Forward. 


Piggybacking on the previous tip, we want to encourage you to dust your shoulders off. So what if you eat a little more than usual? You enjoyed it, right? A great way to ditch the stress around holiday eating is to turn that yummy food into action. Have fun and move your body! Tap dance in the living room, or gather members of your social pod together and make a fun IG reel. Our bodies need calories, and when we use them, the body is doing what it’s meant to do. So eat, enjoy, and move like you were made to. 


TIP #4: Journal Your Concerns.

If you need extra support, we recommend grabbing a journal or hitting the voice record button on your phone to lay out your concerns. Allow yourself to free flow whatever fears you may have around holiday eating, and then develop a game plan for how you can come prepared. For example, a quick scan of the buffet table could be the first step, prioritizing stomach space for must-have foods, and packing the rest to take home. Another strategy to prevent overeating could be to change the lock screen on your phone to an affirmation that you can refer to at a moment’s notice, if you find yourself feeling emotional about the array of food choices. Something like, “The holidays will not ruin my goals” or “I am worthy of enjoying myself today” may be incredibly helpful. 

Let these tips serve you well as you gear up for the holidays. Remember to be kind to yourself. It’s been a tough year for everyone, and you are no exception. Just continue to do the best you can, give yourself lots of grace, and for goodness’ sake, have some fun! You deserve it.

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