So how can we meet this dilemma with poise and confidence? How can we enjoy the traditions and people we love best and not be hijacked by food anxiety? How can we set ourselves up for success?
Here are a few empowering thoughts for us liberated eaters:
Don’t let your anxiety scare you. It’s a holdover from our old dieting days – and it will dim in time as we continue to practice the core beliefs and behaviors of liberated eating.
Remember why you feel anxious; it’s a normal response for people who have experienced starvation. Dieting leads to excess and obsession. Food deprivation is deep and powerful and it influences us on a primal level. This is not about willpower, so give yourself a break. It’s about physiology and psychology. Our binges have not been about us being weak. They’ve been about us being human.
Let’s put some strategies in place that’ll help set us up for reasonable eating over the holidays:
1. Pre-decide how you want things to go. Think ahead, before the food is in front of you. You can trust yourself with this. You are strong and capable. Think it through…
For example, when it comes to Halloween candy, here are a couple of options:
- HAVE SOME: You might decide you want to enjoy your favorite candy in a controlled and safe way. Make a savoring date with one or two perfect pieces and enjoy them thoroughly.
- HAVE NONE: You might not want to eat any at all this year. Perhaps you feel that one piece will lead to the whole bowl. Trust yourself to know what’s best for you right now. Take good care of yourself by eating other foods you enjoy, and let someone else handle the candy bowl for the Trick or Treaters this year.
2. Determine not to eat in secret. You don’t have to.
Eat what you’ve thoughtfully chosen, in full view of good company. Enjoy it with gratitude and grace because you are free.
3. Refuse to eat on auto-pilot.
When you feel compulsive or hurried, just stop a minute. Take a breath. Give yourself the gift of being present for the bites you take. Mindfulness brings great satisfaction.
4. Choose a motto for your holiday season.
Mine is “There’s no food I have to overeat in order to enjoy it fully.”
5. Guard against all-or-nothing thinking – It’s a holdover from dieting back when we thought of ourselves and our food as “good” or “bad”. This led to the exhausting diet/binge roller coaster we hated so badly.
All-or-nothing thinking didn’t work then and it won’t work now. If you happen to eat more than you wish you had, just remind yourself that you wouldn’t go wreck your car just because you got a scratch on it.
You are free. You never have to eat all of anything ever again.
6. Give yourself Grace. Falling back into an old overeating pattern is a normal part of any authentic change process. Acknowledge it, treat yourself kindly and see what you can learn from the experience. What tool or thought would have given you a different outcome? Our relapses can be our very best school!
As we move toward this special time of year, decide to have a journey mindset: Be curious. Anticipate good things. Be open to discovery. Picture yourself getting stronger, wiser, more free, and more peaceful with food with each passing holiday.
Each one is a part of your story.
Each one is an opportunity to know yourself better than you ever have before.