Updated: Dec 23, 2019
For some people, the holidays can be full of family, traditions, and celebrations. For others, it's a time full of anxiety, stress, and worry.
When I was neck-deep in the realms of an eating disorder, the holidays were all these things for me. Not only Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, but my birthday and my older brother's birthday all fall within the span of 35 days. That's a lot of celebrating, and celebrating often brings food.
I don't know why, but our culture is obsessed with what we eat or what we don't eat. We label foods as good (like salad) and bad (like brownies). When we eat "good" foods, we feel proud of ourselves and when we eat "bad" foods, we often feel shameful.
Let me break this down for you: how many times have you either said or heard someone else say "I've been eating so bad lately"? I think I've heard that statement about 5 times in the last week. Scratch that, in the last day. If we didn't put a label on foods, we would take the power away from that statement.
Okay, let's try another one. How many times have you said or heard someone else say "I need this workout to burn off that cookie/pie/burger/pizza (fill in the blank) I ate"? SOOO many times.
I'm going to go ahead and preface this post by saying that I am not trying to shame you if you do say these things or have in the past, I am simply trying to encourage you to change the conversation from the external to the internal. So here are 5 things I would encourage you NOT to say during the holidays:
1. "I have consumed so many calories!" instead say: "This food is delicious and filling!"
Rather than focus on the numbers, focus on the taste, how your body is using this delicious food to fuel your energy, and the people you are able to sit around the table with.
2. "You look great! Have you lost weight?" instead say: "You seem to be so much happier!"
Compliments are so easy to give when they're focused on the physical, but can you imagine the impact of a compliment if you went deeper than the surface?
3. "I'm saving up for dinner later" instead say: "I'm hungry now, but dinner is in 3 hours so I'll have a snack."
Okay friends, if your stomach is growling, that's your body's cue saying it's hungry and needs energy. It's so silly to ignore that cue! Would you ignore your body's cue to go to the bathroom? I hope not! Having a snack or even lunch before a family meal isn't going to kill you. Actually what it might to help you be more mindful and listen to when your body is telling you it's full at dinner.
4. "Definitely going to have to hit the gym later" instead say: "I'm going to enjoy time with my loved ones"
You should never punish yourself for spending time with family over the holidays and creating memories over meals. Another piece of pie is simply another piece of pie, there is no need to punish yourself for enjoying time with friends and family!
5. "Can't have that! Too many carbs! instead say "That sounds good, I'll give it a try!"
When did carbs become illegal? All foods fit, all the time! Whether that be birthdays, Christmas, new years, or Tuesday. All food is fuel.
Try to neutralize conversations surrounding food. Not only for others who may be struggling with eating disorders, body image, or disordered eating but simply for yourself. I encourage you to be the change of conversations around the dinner table: today, tomorrow, and always.