Practicing food freedom and prioritizing your health this holiday season

By Ashleigh Kidd, RD, LDN | November 2022

It’s that time of year again! The holidays can bring joy, excitement, and family fun time. BUT, for some it can also bring stress and anxiety surrounding food choices.

Have you ever felt the pressure to “save up” calories the week prior to a holiday meal, only to then overindulge and eat past fullness and comfort? Or maybe you’ve been so consumed with thoughts or stress about what you’re going to put on your plate that you’re not able to be present with your family and friends. 

If you find yourself in this boat, WE GOT YOU! Try to incorporate these four strategies to help with food guilt and anxious thoughts about your holiday meal. 

Eat like you normally would leading up to your holiday meal

It can be tempting to skip meals leading up to the meal you’re looking forward to in attempts to save up calories. But, this will more likely than not leave you feeling out of control and possibly binging once you get to that holiday meal. Instead, eat how you normally would leading up to the meal/day and aim for balance at most meals (protein fat, carb & fiber). You can read more about balancing your plate here.

Eat & enjoy the foods you love

Give yourself the permission and freedom to eat your favorite holiday foods. Avoiding these will almost always result in overeating them either. Remember that there are no “good/bad foods” (you can learn more here). Eat, enjoy, and move on, it’s one meal on one day.

Practice mindfulness

One way to bring some mindfulness to your holiday meal is assessing your hunger before, during, and after your meal. Once you’ve finished your meal, take 10-15 minutes and remove yourself from the dining area. If you’re still hungry, go get more! If you’re not, move on. Remember that seconds will always be there, they aren’t going anywhere. Here’s some tips on mindful eating.

Remember that the holidays are about more than food

Listen, we ALL look forward to that yummy holiday food, it just hits different (hello sweet potato pie!). And it’s normal to be excited about food that we don’t usually consume more than 1-2 times per year. But remember that’s not the only part of the holiday. Try to bring some focus to spending time with your loved ones and reflecting on what you’ve been grateful for this past year. When we’re in the moment and present with our family and friends, the less space we have to let food guilt and thoughts creep in.

Learning to embrace food freedom and let go of food rules is a journey and won’t happen overnight. Be sure to show yourself patience and grace as you navigate through and contact a Registered Dietitian or your medical provider for additional support if needed.

The F45 Challenge team wishes you an amazing holiday season filled with friends, family, and yummy foods, cheers!