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Most Important, Give Yourself Grace

Dana Eshelman, MS, RDN, CSSD, METS I

Holiday festivities have the opportunity to bring so much joy and light. However, for many it can also bring anxiety, stress, and feelings of overwhelm with the decisions you need to make on some of the foods you have labeled as "off limits" or "bad."

And... I am sure you have read multiple different blogs, instagram posts, and articles on how you can eat healthy or ways to "healthif-y" your holidays. That is not what I am here to do. Rather, I want to provide tips on your mindset around the food choices you make!

Here are four simple tips to allow yourself to fully embrace the holidays:

1) Give yourself unconditional permission to enjoy the foods you choose to put on your plate. I like to remind my athletes, there are foods that nourish our bodies with the nutrients that support all that we enjoy doing and there are foods that nourish our souls. Both have an important place on your plate.

2) Do not feel the need to justify your food choices. You do not need to "earn your food." EVER. Your body needs nutrition even if you were to just stay seated all day long! Your vital organs - your heart, your lungs, and the like - need calories (aka energy) to function. You need food to survive. Dessert, vegetables, legumes, chicken, chocolate, fruit... they are all included on your performance plate. Food is more than just fuel; it is also a source of enjoyment and happiness. There is no need to "earn" a certain food.

3) Move away from labeling foods as "good" or "bad". No food police here. The labels you have places on food come from "rules" that are formed in your head from previous experiences, messages, or up bringing. There is not an innately "bad" or "good" food. Rather, shift focus on the way foods make you feel, how they taste, how they smell, and how they look. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat ALL foods. This can help take the stress away from choosing the "wrong" item and shift focus to what you truly want to eat.

4) Give yourself grace. The holidays are a short time throughout the year that highlight traditional recipes, festive parties, and bring loved ones together. You may eat out of your normal routine or have different foods on your plate. This is wonderful!

The more you try to control and restrict foods, the more it makes you feel "out of control" around food. As mentioned earlier, your body needs calories to survive. When you have intense cravings and resort to eating the quickest source of fuel (carbs/ sugar), your body is simply doing it's job. Surviving. Instead try to include your treats as a part of a meal to normalize including these without guilt/ shame. Enjoy this time!

If you or a loved one are struggling to find balance in your nutrition or feel that your relationship with food is skewed, DDN is here to help you recalibrate your relationship with food, body image, and self. See our 1:1 coaching or enjoy our membership options!

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