Avoiding Food Guilt During the Holidays

The holidays can drum up a lot of guilt, shame and fear for people when it comes to food & drink during celebrations.

I never tell someone they can’t have something; I’ve never deprived myself that way and I certainly don’t think it’s healthy to impose “restrictions” on people. There’s a largely negative connotation to it, and I firmly believe you can enjoy the holidays and celebrate without the food guilt!

I spoke with some fellow Sweat Pink sisters to get their tips & tricks for tackling the food table during the holidays, stress-free.

Because guilt is stupid & food is delicious…

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Surround yourself with the people you love. Usually that means no judgment, good company and amazing treats. – Brittany Gibran Hameed

One thing that I think helps is reminding myself that these small indulgences won’t ruin everything. Coming from having an eating disorder, I used to let food rule my life – even the smallest bite of anything was full of guilt. I’ve worked to a place where I know I am healthy. I know I am strong and fit and in great shape and 96% of the time I eat quality stuff. I also live far from my family so I remind myself that when I get to spend quality time with my family and we want to share some wine and chocolate and just indulge for a holiday it is just that. It is a treat for myself because we work so hard all year, we are allowed a little play time. – Kaitlyn O’Connor

One thing I like (and am happy to see it popping up more and more) is: Food is fuel! It’s okay to indulge a little bit here and there. A happy body is a young body. – Holly Vanorse Spicer

I personally don’t really change what/how I eat, except I always have dessert at my grandparents’ house. Eat before you go so that you’re not ravenous and devouring everything. Bypass dishes you eat all the time and only go for the special ones. If you know the menu beforehand plan what you’ll eat, allowing a couple of swaps. Make your goal allowances specific for the season – i.e. gain 5 lbs, lose 5 lbs, maintain weight. Focus on the people and non-food activities. Tomorrow is another day. Allow indulgences, acknowledge that you are eating them, and move on. – Cassi Schmigotzki

Here’s a tip for parties & dinners: Fill the majority of your plate with healthy choices, and indulge without guilt on some of your favorite items in moderation. And most importantly, the holidays happen once a year, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy, let yourself off the hook. – Kymberly Nichole

I actually changed the name & focus of my annual Holiday Body Challenge to Holiday Body Commitment and started helping people to adjust their focus toward counting blessings instead of calories. – Amia Freeman

My number one tip is NOT to set anything off limits. Allow yourself to sample whatever treats you wish and you’ll be less inclined to binge. – Catherine Davis Miele

It helps me to think of overall balance. A nice dinner out or dessert is fine as long as it fit in a lifestyle of healthy moderation. As long as I eat healthy 80% of the time, stay active and get enough sleep I can enjoy a small treat enhances rather than derails a healthy lifestyle. I think the all or nothing mindset can be a huge barrier to a sustainable, healthy lifestyle. – Samantha Sied

I agree with all the “nothing off limits” tip! All foods fit, except ones that don’t taste good to you, then don’t waste your tastebuds or calories on ’em. – Rebecca Clyde

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If you’re going to a party, have a little bit of everything…all your favorites! This way you won’t feel deprived and get to enjoy the holiday fun without going overboard. This time of year is so short in the grand scheme of things and it’s good to cut yourself a little slack.  – Kaila Proulx

As an RD, the concept that someone is not “good” or “bad” for eating a certain kind of food is one of the most difficult things I encounter. Giving yourself permission to eat whatever food you like without judging yourself for doing so is sometimes is all you need to have moderation kick in naturally. – Melissa Burton

Eating everything in moderation is a great end goal, but isn’t a very practical or helpful how-to for people that struggle with having overly strict ‘clean eating’ food rules. That’s like telling someone struggling with depression to ‘just be happy’. A more actionable how-to and a great starting place to work towards the end goal of eating everything in moderation this holiday season is to practice mindful eating. – Alicia Kremsky Melgoza

Wendy Leep Hammond wrote a whole blog post on the topic. Read it here.
“In addition to my blog post, one thing that has served me well is to avoid store bought sweets around the holidays. A homemade cookie tastes soooo much better than a cardboard tasting one from the supermarket. I was surprised when I started doing this years ago how few people actually bake anymore. And it makes the granny feel great when I can compliment her on the cookie.”

Carleeh Mulholland shared this photo on her Instagram page.

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