It’s that time of year again! It seems to come around quickly, doesn’t it?
There's always something in the calendar to lose weight for though, isn't there? You start the year needing to lose the Christmas weight, spend spring panicking about the bikini body, the summer making sure you’re looking great for your holiday photos and the winter thinking about the little black dress you need to get into. It’s exhausting.
It’s also bullshit.
There's not one reason why you need to lose weight at any time of year. Sadly, that wont stop the world telling you otherwise, and it probably won’t stop you from feeling the pressure again this year.
How we feel about our bodies and, in turn, how other people react to our bodies can make eating a really tricky little business, not to mention all the often disordered thoughts we bring to the party. I know I’m not alone in those difficulties and I know that this time of year leaves many of us in a ball of biscuits and anxiety.
So with that in mind, what can we do to keep our head above water during the festive season? I've got a few tips.
I know this sounds simple, but if we can just get used to taking moments for ourselves during the day, it will give us a chance to show ourselves some much-needed kindness and compassion whilst things are a little manic. Get into the good habit of taking a deep breath regularly - it'll lower your heart rate and blood pressure, but it will also give you a chance to stop and say something positive to yourself! Start with ‘I’m doing okay’ and then work up to really fun things that will make you smile, even when the kitchen is on fire.
2. Food doesn’t come with morals.
Contrary to popular belief, food doesn’t fall into categories of ‘good’ or ‘bad’. As an intuitive eater, you’ll have been working to change how you feel around foods that used to trigger anxiety or moral reactions and it’s reasonable that Christmas will be a challenge to your new-found beliefs. Remember all of the work you’ve been doing to let go of those disordered thoughts, and don’t let other people's misguided opinions on food impact what you know to be true.
3. You can eat this food anytime.
Part of the reason it feels hard to say no at Christmas is the same reason so many of us binge the rest of the year: restriction. The idea that we can only have these foods at this time of year makes it hard to drop the chocolates even when we’re stuffed. But you can eat this stuff any time you fancy. Do you adore Christmas pudding? Stock up! Is stuffing your bag? Start having it with your Sunday roast. Whatever it is you love, add it to your cupboard and know you can eat it any day of the year.
4. You don’t have to earn your food.
I’m sure that learning this step when you started intuitive eating was tricky - it certainly was for me. It’s possible that you choose to partake in some kind of joyful movement through the week, and I hope that it truly comes from a place of pleasure rather than punishment. These next few weeks are likely to be hectic but possibly sedentary, and that's the perfect shit storm for a disordered brain. But it being Christmas, there being more food around and you spending a few days sat on your arse enjoying being with friends and family doesn’t change the fact that you do not have to earn your food. You may eat. You may eat whatever you desire without having lifted a finger. That is always the case, and this week is no different.
5. Remember why you quit dieting in the first place.
Dieting is hell on earth, remember? Remember how awful you felt about yourself, how you beat yourself up for never getting it right, how you obsessed over numbers and food groups and working out? It's exhausting, and the worst bit is remembering that they don’t bloody work anyway. You might be tempted. You might feel so got at by family members or so anxious that your jeans are a little tighter, but you’ve worked hard on your self worth and you're not allowed to give up on yourself now!
6. Eating until your satisfied doesn’t always mean stopping when you’re full.
Sometimes when we eat intuitively, we assume that stopping when we’re ‘satisfied’ must mean stopping when we’re full, but it doesn’t. Especially when meals are really bloody tasty and you want another helping. Satisfied means just that, when you’ve had enough and that’s whenever you decide, so there's no guilt in eating past full!
7. Make your boundaries and stick to them.
It’s your holiday; you get to choose who you’re with and how you spend your time. And even if you don’t get as much say as you’d like (we all have in-laws who like to talk shit about how you look), you do get to dictate what conversations you take part in and when you leave the room. You’re allowed to say that you won't be involved in diet talk or body shaming. It’s okay to counter people's opinions when they feel overtly outrageous. And it's equally as okay to let stuff slide when you don’t have the energy. Set boundaries in your head before Christmas and be clear with yourself about when to draw the line.
8. Make sure you have someone to talk to.
A friend, a partner, a family member, your friendly local body positive instagrammer, it doesn’t matter who it is as long as they GET IT. Whilst you’re surrounded by people who perhaps don’t really understand your politics, it’s even more important that you keep close those who truly know you. Make sure you prioritise time to be with, message or speak to people who can reaffirm what you know to be true. You’re a bad ass who can show the ultimate compassion for yourself, who can make choices to eat whatever they choose, and still think their body is awesome.
9. You’re still worthy, even if you put on weight.
There doesn’t need to be much said here because we all know this is true. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh or what dress size you wear, you’re still the same incredible person you were two weeks ago and you’re just as worthy and important, irrespective of your relationship with gravity.
10. This won’t last forever and it’s meant to be fun.
Try and put all the difficulties to one side as much as possible. Make sure you say yes to things that will bring you joy and sack off all the shit stuff that will bum you out. It’s Christmas! Make time to actually enjoy yourself!