I nodded politely but my mind was on diet math and fantasizing about 5 minutes alone with the butter tarts. Famished, my control slipping I would start to question my strategy of “saving all my points and calories today” to offset holiday drinks and dinner. On paper it should work but it never did.
Where there’s food there’s fun! Really? That’s not how I felt when I was trapped on the diet rollercoaster. I was terrified of gaining any weight and didn't feel I could "control" mysefl. Where there was food there was fear. Sugary, fatty forbidden foods I dreamed of… everywhere.
“You’re not safe anywhere. Not even at family and friends.” We’re not talking zombie apocalypse here. That dire warning comes from a “tips for holiday eating” article! It’s only half funny (if not terrifying) just because it truly sums up ghosts of holidays past for me.
Food fear over the holidays (dreaded weight gain) robs you of good times, good food and starves the spirit. Before your feet hit the floor in the morning you know what you will be eating in any given moment. Next the scale decides on celebratory drinks that night- or not.
There’s another possibility. Waking up with excitement, wondering who will be at the party, looking forward to the potluck while you stroll right past the scale, knowing no good will come of that. (Maybe the scale has even been donated to the BFI bin!).
How to transform food fear to fun
1. Self-trust – Believe in your ability and desire to make the best decision for you in the moment and the next moment when it comes to food and drinks. Most of the time, because it takes practice to learn that you CAN trust yourself.
Believe there is no “perfect” eating. There’s just eating in a way that leaves you peaceful after – body AND spirit – most of the time.
2. Self-compassion – Choose regret over shame when you make a choice you wish you hadn’t. Regret is gentle, and sees another possible choice for next time and moves on, eating mindfully next time. Trusting the body to balance things out.
Shame means punishment by diet, deprivation, extra exercise and harsh fear-based self-talk.
3. Curiosity – Don’t miss the lesson. What could you have done differently? What went well? Set an intention for next time.
How do you feel about being curious this holiday season? Being curious to see how self-trust and moment-to-moment decision, instead of anxious planning works for you. How self-kindness when experiments go a little sideways serves all of you - body, mind and spirit. Can you give this a try at least a few times and see what you learn?
Read more about what this looks like in action for me. How mindful eating helped me find food peace and freedom.