4 Tips To Reduce Food Anxiety Over the Holidays
1. Give yourself permission to enjoy all foods: Yup, the nutritionist is telling you to eat the Panettone and Pandoro, the chocolate cookies, and have a second helping. Why? Because if you really want it and forbid yourself from having it, you’re going to end up building a craving life around that food to the point where you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.
If you simply allow yourself to enjoy the cookie, the slice of buttered bread or …(insert food of your choice), you’ll feel more satisfied as a result and won’t feel the need to overdo it. And hey, if you only have your Mom’s Christmas cake once a year, enjoy it!
2. Don’t save up your calories. It is quite natural to make this mistake, as we have been taught for so many years that losing weight it’s a mathematical equation made of calories IN Vs calories OUT. Fortunately, it is more complicated than that.
Lots of people think that because they are going to splurge on a nice big lunch or dinner, it is essential to save up calories by skipping snacks or breakfast.
Unfortunately, this is going to make you feel ravenous before the meal, and when we enter a meal in a primal hunger state, we set ourselves up to eat past the point of comfortable fullness.
What I would encourage you to do is to eat regularly and normally throughout the day and enjoy the festive meals without worrying too much about the scale and move on with the rest of your life.
3. Release the idea that you need to burn the calories the next day (through exercise or deprivation): restriction and deprivation are a recipe for overeating and binging, and for living an utterly miserable life.
It is important to honour your body’s needs. If you feel satisfied instead of deprived, you won’t be thinking about food 24/7 because food is just food. It’s delicious, but it will be there tomorrow.
Whereas if you engage in restricting/depriving, you are constantly going through that cycle of “tricking your body” ignoring your hunger signals, pushing your body beyond its limits, not eating foods and then gorging on foods as a result of deprivation.
The same goes for exercise. Not to mention, exercising from a place of self-hate or as punishment doesn’t set the stage for healthful behaviours and can actually create more stress in the body. It’s much more beneficial for you to find a form of movement that you enjoy and do it consistently, or on a schedule that works well for you.
4. Don’t talk negatively about food: By saying things like “I don’t care if this goes straight to my hips, I’m eating it anyway” or “Oh my god, this is SO good — it must be bad for you!”, you’re furthering the negative relationship you have with food and also affecting other people too. For someone they may be trying to overcome disordered eating and stray from diet culture, a comment like this can bring them right back and keep them from being able to enjoy the food in front of them — and it’s keeping you from enjoying it too.
Instead, don’t say anything at all! Simply enjoy it and if you witness someone say something like this, use it as an opportunity to turn the conversation around to foster more of a positive relationship with food.
Claudia is a Qualified Nutrition & Dietetic Consultant (BHSC) specialised in hormonal balance, women’s health, and disorder eating behaviors. She sees clients online and in clinical practice; you can find more about her or the Hypothalamic Amenorrhea recovery program by following her on Instagram, Facebook, or by checking her website.