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Navigating Post-Holiday Food Guilt

It’s the week after Thanksgiving and with that the holiday season is quickly approaching. For many people, the holidays are a time to spend with loved ones and eat good food. However, for those struggling with an eating disorder, it can be an incredibly difficult and stressful time as well. A lot of times for those struggling with disordered eating, the days after a holiday also are accompanied with intense feelings of food guilt. Below are some tips to help you overcome some food guilt this holiday season!


What is Food Guilt?

Guilt, in general, is a feeling of shame or regret around doing something wrong. Of course, as children we are taught that certain behaviors are inherently bad and warrant a consequence. With the prevalence of diet culture, many individuals have built “good” or “bad” thinking around certain foods. Unfortunately, diet culture has ingrained in many of us the idea that the holiday season is a time to enjoy good food and immediately “work it off” or “fix the damage done.” After all, after the holiday season there is an influx in New Year’s resolutions and dieting culture. With all that to say, for those struggling with diet mentality, the holiday season can bring with it shame and guilt around simply enjoying delicious food.


Tips for Overcoming Food Guilt This Holiday Season


Tip 1: Eat Fully

One of the most important things to remember is that food is still important even after a holiday meal. In diet culture, many people tell us that we have to restrict our intake after a holiday meal. This is not true! Remember that it is okay to eat delicious foods and still eat fully the next day. Why? Because your body deserves nourishment even when we feel that we ate too much the day before. Your body is attuned to your needs and knows what to do with the nourishment it receives. Your body ALWAYS deserves nourishment even during the holiday season.


Tip 2: Remove Harmful Language and Practice Mindfulness

When it comes to food guilt, you often are your worst enemy. Remind yourself this holiday season to speak kindly to yourself. When you are speaking to yourself, remember to ask yourself these things.


- Are my words harmful? Would I say this to someone I love?

- What are some coping mechanisms I can implement to help with my overall mindset and anxiety?

- How can I reframe this into more compassionate and caring language?


If there are a lot of emotions coming up post-holiday, try to remember to prioritize and check in with yourself. Taking time to connect with yourself during the holiday season is an incredible form of self-care and can be a way of caring for yourself even with the feelings of guilt.


Tip 3: Set Healthy Boundaries With Family

Even after the actual holiday, there may be an overall increase in spending time with family. Although harmful language can come from yourself, it may also come from those around you. Unfortunately following a holiday, body and food conversations can be incredibly overwhelming for those struggling with food guilt and eating disorder recovery. Remember that it is important to set healthy boundaries for yourself around people who may have unhelpful comments about food or body. If you find the conversation becoming unhelpful, don’t be afraid to redirect the conversation or even pull yourself out of the conversation entirely.

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