This time of year can be a really confusing time when it comes to the food choices we make and feelings about our bodies.
With the main event of the day generally a huge Christmas feast, we’re encouraged to indulge during the festive season. Grocery stores are full of all kinds of Christmas goodies & we go nuts preparing enough food for a small city!
We’re also told to enjoy our Christmas lunches & dinners in moderation & reminded to not to forget our diets!
I don’t know about you, but this year my social media feeds have been littered (and yes, literally littered because it’s absolute rubbish!) with visuals of how many calories your traditional Christmas foods have & how to burn them off. Ergh.
This kind of crap makes me all kinds of mad at ANY time of the year but during the holidays, a time that is largely centered around happiness and joy, why?! It’s the time to be festive, catch up with loved ones or maybe you have own reason for celebrating. It’s certainly not the time to be focusing on calories or your weight (I highly recommend not doing this at any time of the year, but especially not now!). Not to mention, this time of year can also be very stressful & difficult for some; do we really need this additional pressure? Noooooope.
Here are 5 tips to help you survive, thrive and stay body positive these holidays:
1. Throw non-appearance related compliments around like confetti
We’ve all done it. The cousin you haven’t seen for 12 months…“Oh, you look great, have you lost weight?” or even complimenting a niece or other little person “you look so pretty in that dress”. They might seem harmless but comments like these reinforce the idea that our value lies within our appearance or what our bodies look like.
It’s time for you to lead by body positive example and start complimenting your family and friends on things that have nothing to do with appearance. Some examples you could use are:
– You are always so much fun to be around
– You can always make me laugh
– I really admire you
– I’m proud of you
You could even create DIY Bonbons/Christmas Crackers with non-appearance compliments for every guest!
2. Make your day a body shame-free zone
This includes shaming your own body!
I am extremely fortunate to have not had experience of body shaming from family members but I understand that it happens, far more regularly than it should. If you are expecting this to happen at your gathering, I highly recommend setting boundaries with those who are likely to bring it up. If you are unsure what to say, you could say something like this:
“I know you comment on my weight/body because you care about me (or think that it is helpful) but it’s not and I need you to stop”.
It’s important to be kind and compassionate to the person you are speaking to -in most cases, they think that they are helping you rather than hurting you. If the body shaming is happening to someone else and they aren’t confident enough to say something or aren’t in the room to defend themselves, speak up.
It’s okay if you’re not brave enough to stand up to someone who is body shaming either yourself or someone else. Another option is to walk away from the discussion – maybe they’ll get the hint that you’re not interested in the conversation. Your mental health is important and you have the right to leave when someone is making you uncomfortable.
3. No diet-talk
Along with no body-shaming, aim to make these holidays free from diet talk. While we can’t control what those around us discuss, we can choose whether or not we engage in diet conversation.
Food is often a big focus on the day, which means it can bring up some guilt & shame for some people. This can trigger talk about future diet plans, weight loss strategies or burning calories. If others are engaging in diet talk, remove yourself from the conversation or change the topic to something positive or more interesting! Go around the table & have each person can talk about their proudest achievement of the year instead.
4. Food is not the enemy
Us humans are weird creatures – we spend weeks sometimes months, preparing holiday feasts we know we are likely to overindulge in, but yet, come Christmas day, many of us will spend the day complaining that we ate too much, or how bad we are for eating!
Remember, food has no moral value and it’s not something that should make you feel guilty, shameful or anxious. Food is there to nourish and sustain us! Be mindful of the way you talk about certain foods eg. ‘good’, ‘bad’, use neutral language – food is simply just food!
If the food police are out in force, don’t be afraid to remove yourself from conversations or tell them to refrain from commenting on your food choices.
Don’t forget to check in with your hunger cues throughout the day. Don’t let diets dictate what you should & shouldn’t eat – listen to your body & ask it what it wants & needs.
5. Be kind and compassionate to yourself and to others
It’s okay if you overindulge – it’s one day of the year.
It’s okay if you’re a little bloated – it will pass (literally).
It’s okay if you gain a little weight – our weight fluctuates all the time, not just at Christmas!
It’s okay if your zipper is a little tight at the end of the day – next year wear something more comfortable 😉
Most importantly, remember to have fun & be merry – don’t let negative thoughts about your body or food take over the day.