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How to Eat Mindfully During Holiday Meals

For many, holiday eating is also stressful and associated with guilt that outweighs the joy. Eating beloved traditional foods may arouse difficult feelings like judgement and shame creating pressure to adopt rigorous so-called healthy eating regimens on January 1. We do have a choice. Those who embrace the philosophy that eating is intended to be both mindful and spontaneous -- responsible and recreational -- experience balanced eating and balanced lives.
Holiday food

Holiday foods are often as rich with tradition and memories as they are with flavor. For many, seasonal foods are enjoyed with pleasure and freedom along with a variety of other foods and without imbalance or guilt. Holidays and their special foods are celebrated as a whole along with other festivities.
Yes, the above is true. But, for many, holiday eating is also stressful and associated with guilt that outweighs the joy.
Eating beloved traditional foods may arouse difficult feelings like judgement and shame — creating pressure to adopt rigorous so-called "healthy eating" regimens on January 1.
Looming deprivation anticipated in restrictive regimens may actually foster deprivation backlash before the deprivation even starts. Deprivation backlash leads to overeating foods perceived as forbidden, which in turn increases shame and despair and perpetuates an entrenched cycle.
This more extreme pattern is very different from a positive goal to include more vegetables or whole grains along with a wide variety of foods including those with low nutrition content we eat just for pleasure.
Narrow views of foods as "good" or "bad"-- "healthy" or "unhealthy" may transfer to one's view of self. Unwarranted shame and perceptions of harm from foods may drive extreme behaviors and emotions resulting in a painful relationship with food and eating or an eating disorder.
We do have a choice. Those who embrace the philosophy that eating is intended to be both mindful and spontaneous -- responsible and recreational -- experience balanced eating and balanced lives.  Eating is simply eating rather than testament to character or virtue.
Have you lost balance in eating perspective or behaviors?  If so, the good news is there's a way to restore eating in balance and plenty of support for the journey.
~Lisa Geraud, LMFT, RD

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