Hello food guilt, my old friend…

Travel is finally back on the agenda, and after the year we’ve all had you can bet we’re in need of a getaway.

But for a lot of us, the precise moment when we’re supposed to be relaxing around food is when fear and guilt see us tense up.

Food-guilt triggers that send us spiralling

Maybe you’re heading away with family or friends you haven’t seen since before lockdown and you’re worried they’re going to comment on your weight?

Maybe you’re looking at that bikini like it’s a pair of shackles – the one, uncomfortable thing standing in-between you and having fun in the water. (Side note – I may have an answer for this one in this post).

Or maybe the phones are out in full force, snapping away, and every time you see a picture of yourself you’re flooded with self-criticism, meaning you just can’t relax and be in the moment. 

I know these feelings deep in my bones, because for years – and oh so many holidays – they were my feelings, too.

I used to feel guilty after eating on holidays. Then I learned how to take a break from diet nonsense. Spoiler alert: No tummy control swimsuit required.
Holiday snaps – for some people a case of The More The Merrier, for others a source of body dysmorphia and food guilt. Image: Lyndi Cohen

Take a holiday from diet nonsense with this nifty hack

I weep for how many holidays I ruined for myself because I couldn’t get over food guilt and crappy body image. I want so desperately for you to find the freedom I have found because there is truly no better feeling on this earth than soaking up every last drop of holiday relaxation. You deserve it.

So, I want to share a great hack I learned from a psychologist. It was originally presented as a CBT technique for dealing with anxiety, but I find it also works a treat when food guilt and body hate weasels its way into my consciousness.

It goes like this: your worries are going to try and pop up and get attention from you, and there is a part of your brain that feels it has to attach to them in order to solve them. That’s why worries are so good at getting our attention! Trying not to focus on whatever anxious (or, in this case, food guilt-related) thought is popping up is a lot like telling yourself NOT to think about polar bears – try it right now – it becomes the only thing you latch onto! Instead, watch the thought arrive, and then tell yourself “I recognise that’s an anxious thought, and I’ll explore it later. Right now I’m on a holiday so I get to delay it for another time.” 

I know it sounds silly, but it’s almost like an out-of-office reply on your emails. The email might be waiting for you when you get home, but you don’t have to deal with it at a time when it’s going to ruin your beachside Aperol spritz and the new Liane Moriarty book.

Me then: I hate my body on the beach. Me today: Soaking up every last drop of well-deserved relaxation, rather than dealing with food guilt on holidays.
Hello holidays! Time to relax (without bathing suit anxiety). Image: Unsplash

…And a few more tools to pack alongside your bathing suit …

As well as the tip above, I’ve got loads more hard-won tools for helping you get through your next holiday without it being ruined by body dysmorphia or food guilt. Here are a few mantras I want you to take on holiday with you:

  • “It’s not my life’s purpose to have a flat stomach and look good from every angle.”
  • “I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.”
  • “I accept myself – and I accept others.”
  • “My body is allowed to change. I trust that my body will look after me if I listen to it, instead of criticism.”
  • “I’m allowed to relax around food. When I return to my usual routine, my body will return to its usual shape.”

After nearly two years of cancelled plans and daydreaming about going on holidays again, are you really willing to let diet culture gatecrash the party? Screw that! Life’s too short…

If you’d love ongoing support to eat healthily when the holiday is over and side-step the guilt, check out Back to Basics. You can try it free for 7-days and get a whole bunch of support to be healthy and accept your already very lovely body.