Let’s face it, the holidays aren’t always light and happy.

In fact, the holidays can bring on some unwanted negative feelings, especially around body image.

Whether your holiday plans include multiple gatherings or not, you may encounter more foods around the holidays. If you are someone who tends to feel overwhelmed or guilty around food, you are not alone! Here are 3 ways to navigate food guilt over the holidays and beyond.

No.1 Set an intention.

Food is so much more than fuel and nourishment for our body. It is a means of connecting to loved ones as well as emotional and mental nourishment. If you are feeling overwhelmed, guilty, or nervous eating certain foods, try setting an intention beforehand for the way you want to feel during the experience. This may take the pressure off of the food itself and more on your state of mind in the present moment. This could look like setting an intention to “feel present at a party” or “connect emotionally with a loved one”. Whatever the intention is, keep it at the forefront of your mind and anytime you feel yourself stirring away, use it to pull you back.

No.2 Eat regular, balanced meals and snacks throughout the day leading up to the event.

You know that feeling when you are so hungry you end up overeating and feeling way too full? Not a fun way to feel! When you know you will be having a big meal later in the day, instead of saving your appetite for then, try eating a balanced meal full of carbohydrates, protein, fats and micronutrients. This will keep your hunger and blood sugar balanced so that you don’t overeat and feel poorly later.

No.3 There are no “bad” foods.

Nutrition is not black and white, labeling foods as “good” or “bad” causes a negative association towards said “bad” foods. If you feel like you “can’t” have a certain food, you are more likely to think about that food and when presented with it, you may find yourself overeating it because you feel like “I won’t be having this again, so I better eat it all now”. Instead, try keeping food in its context. Having freedom around food means that you can enjoy all foods, knowing that you can always have more of them later and that having a little bit of any kind of food is not going to change, make or break you.

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