5 Tips: Maintaining a Healthy Food Relationship for the Holidays

The holidays can be both a fun and stressful time of year. The excitement of the season can be overshadowed by challenges like financial concerns, time with extended family, and pressure to meet others’ expectations.  It’s easy to turn to food as a way to cope with everything going on. On top of that, meals and treats have become a significant part of how we celebrate.

Maintaining a healthy relationship with food during the holidays isn’t easy. These tips will help ease the burden and give you the help you need to feel confident with how you handle food during these months.

Healthy Holiday Food - Utah Dietitian

Be kind to yourself and let the food shame go

There is no perfect way to eat. All foods can fit in a healthy meal pattern. Give yourself permission to eat foods you enjoy while being intentional with including nutrient-dense food options in your meals.

Healthy Relationship with Food - Dietitian Utah

Holiday foods can be made at any time if you can find the ingredients.

Avoid putting holiday foods on a pedestal

Is there a dish you love but only eat once a year? Do you save room to eat as much as you can of this food? Why is that? Holiday foods can be made at any time if you can find the ingredients. There’s no need to overindulge on these foods when you can make them available throughout the year! Track down that favorite recipe from your grandmother. Find a copycat version online. Put it in your regular meal rotation throughout the year. This will reduce the need to feel anxiety about not getting enough of this food when it’s present at holiday gatherings. And as a bonus, you get to enjoy your favorite holiday foods more regularly!

Eat for hunger, stop for fullness, but don’t forget pleasure!

Try to eat based on your body’s hunger and fullness cues. You can do this consistently by checking in with yourself throughout your meals. Take short breaks to gauge your hunger/fullness levels. Remember to eat slowly enough to allow your fullness cues to register. You can do this at parties or other occasions when grazing, as well as at meals. Choose foods that will satisfy you and your taste preferences, while honoring your body’s cues, and stopping when you’re comfortably full.

Navigating food during the holidays, Dietitian help Utah
Navigating food relationships during the holidays, Utah Dietitian

Prioritize eating regularly and hydrating well

Avoid saving up calories or stomach space for anticipated treats or holiday meals. Restricting leads to feeling overly hungry and deprived. This behavior can often lead to overeating once you give yourself permission to eat again. Eat regular meals and snacks to nourish yourself well and set yourself up to eat intentionally at special events. Drinking enough water will also help balance your food intake.

Redirect comments about your food intake with confidence

“I think you’ve had enough.”

“Wow are you really going to eat all of that?”

“Don’t you know how bad sweets are for you?”

These comments and others like them can be triggering. It is frustrating to have others comment on your food choices, especially when you may already be self-conscious about food or body image. Remember that no one else can tell how hungry or full you are. Those cues belong to you and are yours to act on, regardless of how your food intake is perceived by others.

Try to redirect comments like this with something like the following:

“I trust my body to tell me when I’m full and I will stop when I feel satisfied. That amount will vary based on what my body needs each day.” 

“I am working on having a more balanced relationship with food and I know it is okay to have desserts without feeling guilty!”

“I’m focused on enjoying my meal and giving my body what it needs. I try to eat for both taste and nutrition and I know it doesn’t have to be perfect to be balanced.”

Having made it through many holiday seasons now, you know how challenging this process can be. Having a healthy relationship with food during this season can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Invite people you trust on your journey with you. You can support and encourage each other when you might otherwise struggle, trying to make changes all on your own. 

Maintaining a healthy relationship with food during the holidays will help make this time of year more enjoyable and less stressful, making it even easier to focus on what really matters to you. 

In Need of Dietitian Services?

If you or a loved one are in need of dietitian services or nutritionist services in Utah or Nevada, our registered dietitian is available in-person in our Provo, Utah office and via telehealth statewide in Utah and Nevada. Call or text our client care team and they will promptly help you schedule either a free 15 minute phone consultation or a regular first session with our registered dietitian.

Written by Amanda Nelson

I am a registered dietitian and nutritionist. I love intuitive eating and the concept of health at every size. I have a master’s degree in dietetics and nutrition science from Brigham Young University and I am passionate about my work as a dietitian and nutritionist. I work in-person and via telehealth in our Provo, Utah office and serve clients throughout the entire state of Utah and the state of Nevada via telehealth. Call or text our office and request either a first appointment or a 15-minute free phone consultation with Amanda to begin your healing today.

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