How I beat the body image blues during the holiday season

Regardless of how your family may celebrate the holiday season, one thing is for sure. During those festive weeks, it seems that everyone everywhere is talking about indulging. There’s the usual spate of articles on how to prevent gaining those holiday pounds, followed by the New Year’s resolution mindset of shedding what you’ve gained. There’s a kind of “stuff yourself now, work it off later” mantra. All of these can pose a very unhealthy way of thinking about food and our bodies.

Unfortunately I have fallen into the holiday body-bashing trap. As a former disordered eater, I remember feeling out-of-control during the holiday season. For every moment I spent worrying about what I was eating, I lost a precious moment with those I love. I have spent many holidays in recovery, and I have a body positive arsenal that I whip out right around the end of November.

Step back and focus on treating yourself in a smart way

Regardless of religious beliefs, I think we can agree that November and December are months during which we reflect and focus on thankfulness, giving, love, and peace. Turn those reflections back to yourself and your body! Your body is a treasure. Treat it as such. Take time to be thankful for all the things your body can do for you. And treat yourself. Whether it’s a fancy coffee drink you may not normally purchase, a manicure, fresh flowers, a new mug for your tea obsession, or a solo walk in the park, take an extra few moments to be kind to yourself. If you want to nibble on Christmas cookies, or take that extra helping of stuffing do it! Just make sure you appreciate it.

Don’t let anyone else shame you for what you like

As women, we need to support one another’s choices. I stopped prefacing my diet choices phrases like, “No judgment, but I’m about to eat this cookie dough.” Or “Please excuse the fact that I ate a whole bag of pumpkin spice M&Ms.” Or “I am such trash for eating that red velvet cake.” I stopped using self-deprecating phrases like those, and it helped. If you have to make statements to excuse your eating habits for fear of real judgment, you’re hanging out with the wrong people. You do you, let them do them.

You’re wonderful and don’t you forget it

A huge part of eating disorders is that little voice in your head saying you are worthless, no one loves you, and you deserve nothing. I hope you know that voice is dumb, and that each and every one of you has purpose and talent. You are a beacon of light to others. Someone adores you. I promise. I am a musician, so during the holidays I make sure to use my talent as often as possible to bring joy to others. I play piano, flute, and sing at shows and services, but I also play for nursing home residents and go caroling. When I use my talent to spread a little cheer, it quiets the voice and reminds me that I am enough, I have worth, and I deserve to be loved. Whatever your talent is—wrapping gifts, baking goodies, writing notes in cards, knitting—use it and take a little extra time this season to bring another happiness and hope.

[Image via Universal Pictures]

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