Coping with the Holiday Guilt

This is a relatively short blog post, to introduce ways that we can better understand the guilt and shame we feel after a holiday!

Here in Canada, we just had our thanksgiving weekend, so I thought it would be the perfect time to talk about post-holiday guilt.

Holidays can be extremely stressful and induce more guilt for a lot of us. It doesn’t have to be a holiday really, it can even be for anytime you eat or eat something that is out of the ordinary for you or out of your comfort zone! No matter where you are located in the world, this information will be relevant to you.

Common mindset during a holiday

Throughout the holidays, there are two big spheres of our life that are triggered, that is food and our emotions.

When it comes to food, a lot of these events may be viewed as our “cheat meals”. We will give ourselves conditional permission to eat all the foods, or even to eat them “within reason”, because our intention is to “get back on track” the following week. We say it’s only for today and then start a new diet tomorrow. This often leads us feeling a lot worse and may provide us with temporary happiness/ease!

–> The emotional hangover

I use this term a lot with my clients and it’s something that most people experience over the holidays!

This term refers to the overwhelming feelings related to food and our bodies. When we feel emotionally hungover, we are exhausted of having to either talk about/listen to or battle thoughts that are triggering for us! You may have spent most of your thanksgiving trying to battle the inner voice telling you “don’t eat that, it’s too many calories” OR “you can choose between eating more stuffing or having a slice of pie”.

Let’s look at how to cope with Thanksgiving guilt in 2 parts:

COPING WITH THE FOOD GUILT

After a holiday or a time where you have eaten more than you’re comfortable with, or maybe there were a lot of new foods that are outside of your comfort zone, we tend to start feeling really bad.

And I think it’s pretty obvious why we feel bad after right? Like if you eat “too much” or more than you are comfortable with, we can understand how that can result in you feeling negative emotions. You did something that was uncomfortable, so you will feel uncomfortable as a result!

I want to talk about is how we can cope with those negative thoughts and emotions that arise during these times!

Post-Holiday Dos and Don’ts:

DO: Nourish yourself the next day, and the next, and the next….  DON’T: Restrict your food intake.

–> It can be tempting to “get back on track, eat clean, eat fresh” to try to make up for the weekend. The reason we don’t want to do that is because it will send us back into a cycle of restricting/binging and self-hatred. It reinforces the idea that what we did was wrong, and that we need to remedy the situation, which is not true.

DO: Check in with yourself and ask your body what it needs today! DON’T: Start a new diet/cleans to wash away the “excess” from the weekend.

–> Asking yourself questions like: why did I think that that was bad? What is my perspective of these foods? Being able to reflect on why you may feel guilty around certain foods is helpful to understand how to cope with them. Ask yourself what stories you are telling yourself about these foods and how it can affect your body. Then try to remember that all foods fit and your body still needs nourishment regardless.

DO: Be gentle and compassionate with yourself. DON’T: Shame yourself for not getting it right and learning how to trust your body again.

–> We are meant to enjoy, find pleasure and connect with food. Are you continue on with your week, and moving forward in general, remind yourself that you are in the process of learning to trust your body and healing your relationship with food. It’s okay for it to be hard. It’s okay to feel discouraged and confused. But just remember that although it may be hard, you got this! You still deserve to be kind to your body and treat it the way it deserves.

COPING WITH OUR EMOTIONS

Woo! So, the next day is probably the worst. We start to overthink everything we ate or didn’t eat, and the conversations we had with other people and it’s just a whirlwind of emotions.

Some of us have families that are very weight and body centric. We may live with people on a day to day basis who remind us of this, and holidays/gatherings are another opportunity for people to have conversations relating to food, diets and bodies. This can be super triggering when you are working so hard to try and heal your relationship with food and your body.

You may find yourself being maybe more irritable or more sensitive for a few days following the holiday. Or, maybe you find yourself experiencing a little bit of lingering anxiety. These are all symptoms of the emotional hangover and it’s normal. that still lingers.

How to manage the emotional hangover:

Pay attention to how you are feeling and start building a toolbox with activities that help you decompress. It’s okay to take time to recharge emotionally. If anything, it’s highly encouraged so that you can continue on without neglecting yourself!

We don’t want to spiral down so we want to be proactive by looking for techniques that may be supportive.

Join a community of likeminded people, reach out to someone you trust. A lot of times when we experience this type of guilt, it can feel very isolating. But the truth is, you’re not alone and so many other people are working through their healing journey by overcoming the same barriers.

CONCLUSION

Holiday guilt is common, but just because it’s common, it doesn’t mean we want to let it win! You are more than the food you eat and the body you occupy. Holidays and celebrations have so much to offer, and while this can be a beautiful thing, diet culture gives us the impression that the food we eat and the environment we cultivate, can’t be trusted!

I hope these tips were helpful and that you will continue to work towards finding pleasure in the food you eat.

Looking to find Food Freedom but don’t know where to start?

Check out my FREE Class to learn more about my Guilt Free Method so that you can find food freedom and feel good in your body.

🎙 Access the full PODCAST episode here!🎙

Hear me talk more in depth about how you can manage holiday guilt on this week’s podcast episode ! It’s PACKED with useful information! Click the links below to listen:

Need support?👇

The Balanced Practice is a team of professionals specialized in eating disorder outpatient treatment, disordered eating. Our mission is to help as many folks heal their relationship with food and their bodies so they can live happily outside of diet culture!

We strive to provide evidence based nutrition counselling to support you, or your loved one, in achieving full recovery. Schedule a connection call now.

Marie-Pier Pitre-D’Iorio, RD, B.Sc.Psychology
Lead Registered Dietitian and Founder of  The Balanced Practice

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