It’s cruel really when you think about it. At exactly the same time you know you’re meant to relax around food – festive season – the guilt and weight worries turn up like unannounced in-laws just in time to ruin your holiday.

I know I’m not alone here when it comes to these joy-killing scenarios.

Scenario 1

You imagine that family you haven’t seen in a long time will judge your body or appearance. Bleurgh.

Scenario 2

You feel scared to wear a swimsuit or can’t find anything to wear that makes you feel comfortable. Oooft.

Scenario 3

You cringe when you see a photo of yourself and then can’t enjoy the moment because you’re too busy thinking about how awful you think you look. Not fun.

We’ve all been there. Image: Lyndi Cohen

Scenario 4

You lie in bed agonising over what you ate that day, then anxiously run over in your head how you’ll ”make up for it”. Ugh. 

If food guilt and body hate have ruined too many holidays

I know they have messed with mine in the past, so here are some things I want you to know – and come back to. 

  1. It’s totally okay to give yourself permission to overeat. The holidays are exactly the time to relax around food. If not now, seriously when?
  1. You may gain weight over the holiday. It’s natural. It happens. It’s nothing to stress about. When the holiday is over, and your body returns to its pre-holiday routine, voila, so will your pre-holiday weight.
  1. If a family member or ‘friend’ judges your body or food choices. Firstly, ugh, that’s so not okay, and secondly, it’s their problem. It’s got nothing to do with your weight and everything to do with their own body hang-ups. Need tips for what to do when it happens? Here’s a blog post on just that. 
  1. Guilt won’t help you eat less or lose weight. It will give you a sinking pit-of-your-stomach feeling, screw with your happiness, isolate you from the people you love and ruin what’s meant to be a happy time. What a hoot, guilt! 
You're more than a bikini body. Image: Lyndi Cohen
You’re more than a bikini body. Image: Lyndi Cohen
  1. And while we’re at it, guilt doesn’t help you eat any healthier. It sets you up for all-or-nothing thinking and we all know how that ends, right? Hello under-eating that immediately spirals into out-of-control overeating. Side note: if this happens, this blog post How to stop feeling guilty after a binge or overeating has your back. 
  1. You’re worthy. It doesn’t matter that you ate Christmas pudding for breakfast, whether you have makeup on or that photo angle isn’t your best, you have permission to like yourself. Your worth is so much deeper than how you look.
  1. You know that deep in your bones, right? But there’s also a mean girl voice in your head, imagining your brain is a radio can help. When you hear that neg voice, try to see if you can change the channel – from self-loathing to self-acceptance, because the second one is way more enjoyable to tune into.

Let’s work with some examples here. I start by simply telling myself:

  • “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.”
Pay yourself some compliments. Image: Lyndi Cohen
  1. How many more years or holidays will be wasted because you never looked “perfect” enough? Bare with me while I get all end-of-year-existential for a minute and ask you a few questions I’ve asked myself before I ditched dieting for good. What would you prefer to count – almonds or happy memories? At the end of your life, will you remember your soft stomach, or will you regret how much time you spent worrying about it?

2020 was a binfire but your relationship with food and your body doesn’t have to be. Don’t let diets be the only constant in your life.

If you’d love ongoing support to eat healthily when the holiday is over and side-step the guilt, check out Back to Basics