This time of year, the media is all about how to maintain your weight this holiday season or minimize the holiday eating “damage”. These articles or news pieces essentially give you all the diet tips you’ve heard many times before. They teach you how to spend the whole holiday meal planning to eat enough to satisfy your cravings, but not too much that you might end up gaining weight. The tips are well-meaning. After all, most people are worried about holiday weight gain and then try to go on a diet come January 1st.
But what if you didn’t need to worry about your weight? What if you could just enjoy the holiday season with family and friends? What if holiday gatherings were about all the things you’re grateful for?
“But Christina,” you say, “the prize for restricting these foods is weight loss.”
Or the prize is that you’ll live longer because you’ll be so much healthier.
Or the prize might be seeming superior to those around you for resisting food.
But the truth is, there is no prize.
We all agree these people are bad. But how can you fit into that same category of “bad” when you eat a cookie you weren’t planning on having. You can’t say you were so bad for eating extra foods. You’re not bad; you’re just human.
When you were younger, it may have been as simple as whenever your belly rumbled, you got yourself a snack. Your body was telling you it was hungry and you fed it in response.
Now, we may not even be attuned to our body’s hunger signals. We may have desperately tried to silence these signals through dieting and deprivation. Or we may keep ourselves full at all times so we never have to experience the emptiness of hunger.
We may associate hunger with binging. That’s because when we get overly hungry, we’re ready to eat just about anything and we want all of it. We may not trust that we’re going to eat again, so we feast. This is one reason why it’s important to listen to your hunger and feed yourself before you get too ravenous.
Hunger does not always feel safe. Sometimes hunger feels like the scariest possible sensation.
But hunger is safe.
You will not become nutrient deficient from one day of imbalanced eating. It takes time. And you may start to feel not so good if you’re constantly eating the same thing, so you will eventually gravitate towards something different.
Trust that your body will get what it needs.
As someone who’s long ago left the world of dieting and disordered eating behind, I’m still shocked every time I hear references to dieting. It’s all around me everywhere I go. At the doctor, at work, at the grocery store, at the gym, at home, and on my social media feed. At this point, it’s truly impossible to avoid diet culture. Since it can be so easy to be sucked back into diet culture, especially in the beginning, let’s explore some ways to challenge the culture so you can remain a non-dieter, intuitive eater, and lover of self.