The Holiday Gain We All Need


Staying healthy during the holidays is about approaching meals with a physically and mentally nourishing mindset. However, instead of focusing on this wonderful time of year with the people you love, the focus is on the anticipated binge.

The conversation is centered around weight gain, unrealistic promises for the New Year, and how to “lighten” your favorite dish.

The common thought is that you must restrict before the meal and need to compensate afterwards for everything you ate. Instead of leaving the table feeling comfortable and gracious, we leave with feelings of guilt and shame.

It isn’t the actual meal that is bad for us, but the cycle of restrict and binge. When you shift your primary focus to the people you are gathered with and the recipes that have been passed down for generations, you start to really experience the holidays.

Here are a few ways to savor those experiences and promote positivity:

Wear something comfortable and that makes you feel beautiful.

Don’t try and squeeze into clothes that are too small, pants that do not have any give, or a shirt you are continually pulling at. Also, remember that you have the right to set boundaries when others start talking about body sizes or weight.

Start holiday shopping early for friends and family.

Make your gift list at the beginning of November. Write down what you are thinking of getting your family and friends. Include random acts of kindness, such as taking cookies to your neighbor. Spend more time thinking about others and gain more fulfillment doing it.

Plan activities together other than eating.

Drive or walk around to look at Christmas lights after your holiday meal. Go ice skating, play cards together or make hot cocoa and watch a movie.  

Plan for plenty of self care.

Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do for those around you. Try journaling what you are grateful for, take a hot bath, or unplug (phone/computer) for a couple hours. Get outside and connect with someone, or slow down to meditate. Take yourself on a coffee date and read a new book for fun. Practice self-compassion and kindness by accepting gratitude from others, ask for help, or say no to things that are stressing you.

Trust your body.

Do not go into the holiday meal starving. Your body deserves 3 meals and multiple snacks every day, even on a holiday. Trust that your body knows how to process all foods and adapt if we eat past fullness. Micromanaging your body promotes deprivation mindset and will always lead to the desire for even more food.

Your New Year’s resolution should not include a diet.

Pre-diet mentality typically is focused on eating as much of the foods you are going to be restricting as possible. This takes all enjoyment and mindfulness out of eating and replaces it with guilt and poor body image.

The holidays are more about feeling the abundance from the food, rather than the calories it contains. Stick to your normal eating pattern, don’t skip meals in anticipation, slow down and enjoy each bite. You will probably eat half as much and be twice as satisfied.

Instead of focusing on weight gain, focus on gaining beautiful memories, good food, and fulfillment.


Adapted from the original article