Many people have positive associations with food around the holidays: savory stuffing at Thanksgiving, homemade Christmas cookies, or delicious hot chocolate, to name a few. However, many people also experience anxiety related to holiday foods or meals. This anxiety can stem from fears of overeating, eating with a large group, or judgment from family members regarding food choices and portions. This holiday season, I want you to stress less and enjoy food more. To make this happen, read on for my top tips to manage food-related anxiety and find one or two that speak to you!
If you… worry about overeating
- Remembering that one meal that is larger than normal or has more starches or fat than normal is not going to impact your overall health.
- Eat a small meal or snack 1-2 hours before the main meal to avoid feeling famished when you sit down to eat; being extra hungry can cause us to make choices we might not otherwise make!
- Slow down when eating and put your fork down between bites. This will help you to better recognize when you are full and may want to stop eating to avoid feeling overstuffed.
- Fill at least half your plate with nutrient-dense foods (like roasted Brussels sprouts, baked sweet potatoes, or cooked butternut squash).
- Wait 10 minutes after finishing your first plate to decide if you want more or would rather wait until later to eat again.
If you… worry about eating with a large group
- Doing a relaxing activity before the meal, such as journaling, stretching, or listening to calm music (try this playlist as an example).
- Reach out to a close friend or family member who will be attending the meal and lean on them for support as needed.
- Take deep breaths at the table to lower your heart rate and slow your mind.
- Excuse yourself from the table to take a break, if necessary, and come back when you are ready.
- Remember that all food fits, and that it’s okay to choose anything on the table that you want to eat. Holidays are special occasions!
If you… often receive scrutiny or pressure from family members regarding food choices and portions
- Setting boundaries. Let these family members know that you don’t feel comfortable with their comments and would prefer that they don’t evaluate your choices, especially around the holidays, when togetherness and enjoying time with family should be the top priorities.
- Remember that people who tend to judge the behaviors of others often feel dissatisfied with their own behavior or have other personal issues that are not being addressed in a healthy way.
- Remind yourself that you know what is best for your body. It could be helpful to write down this affirmation (and others you find helpful, too) ahead of time.
- Plan to sit away from this family member and have other topics in mind if need be to redirect the conversation.
- If this family member contributed to making the meal, thank them for the food and offer to take home leftovers rather than eating past your own comfort level to please them.
If any of these situations speaks to you, try some of these tips this holiday season to enjoy food more and stress less! Focus on making positive memories, enjoying your favorite foods, and banning any feelings of guilt over food choices. If you still feel anxious about food choices this holiday season, send Nikky a message and she will be happy to offer additional support!