How to Let Go of Holiday Food Guilt

It’s that time of year again! The season of overindulgence is upon us; we’re offered Christmas
cookies at every turn, invited to parties with limitless amounts of dessert, and seem to have
endless occasions to eat cookie after cake after pie.

Sticking to our health intentions can definitely be challenging during the holiday season. When
we’ve been trying so hard to be “good," it’s easy to feel guilty after giving in to the happy hour
appetizers or indulging in a few (or more) freshly baked cookies that a neighbor brought over.
To keep you feeling balanced and healthy, use these 3 tips to help you navigate through the
holiday season guilt-free!

1. Avoid the “I Blew It So…” Syndrome

After we have a few too many pieces of dessert, we usually say to ourselves, “I blew it, so I may as well just overeat for the rest of the weekend.” Then we continue to overindulge, feeding the cycle of food guilt and criticism.

This way of thinking only sets us up for failure and increases our sense of blame. When we have the mindset that we’ve “blown it”, it sets the stage for eating everything that we label “bad” for the rest of the party, the week, or the holiday season. What we really need is some self-encouragement and a reminder that just because we overate, doesn’t mean we “ruined” the day. It just means we’re human, and we’re allowed to overindulge every now and then!

2. Practice Self-Kindness and Compassion

When we feel guilty about what we ate, holding onto that guilt only creates more
anxiety and worry. Overeating around the holidays is a wonderful time to practice
kindness and compassion. Typically, we jump right into self-criticism. We berate ourselves, call ourselves a failure, and badmouth our inability to have any willpower. What if we turned to kindness instead? We can get curious about why we were overeating in the first place. We can tune in to see if we’re emotionally eating, turning to food during overwhelming times, or using food to deal with stress. When we turn guilt into compassion, it allows us to not only explore why we were
overeating, but gives us some grace to make mistakes, learn, and get back on track!

3. Adopt The Big Picture Perspective

It can be helpful to take a long-term view when we think of wellness. One night of too many cookies or too much dessert isn’t going to significantly impact our overall health. It’s all about balance and moderation. A few nights of overindulging won’t derail all of our health goals. Eat something nutritious and nourishing at your next meal, and you’re right back on track with the overall intention to be healthy. Keep the 80/20 concept in mind: eat healthy 80% of the time and allow 20% for sweets, desserts and other indulgences.

Jenn is a coach, author, wellness expert and founder of the podcast "Cake Doesn't Count."

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