Festive Food Guilt

Now that December is well under way, I thought I’d write a post about food guilt in the festive season. Why? Because all too often we are bombarded by photos and captions on social media urging us to “burn off those Christmas calories” and other crap along those lines. In the past, I would’ve taken these messages to heart, so I wanted to use this opportunity to deconstruct this BS and (hopefully) encourage a healthier mindset around food this Christmas.

Food Guilt from External Sources

By external sources, I mean social media/ news platforms/ websites/ people (friends/ family/ strangers). Basically, anyone or thing beside yourself. With news headlines vilifying seasonal hot drinks and influencers promoting “healthy, low calorie” alternatives to traditional treats (e.g. eating an orange instead of a chocolate orange… not the same thing), it’s easy to see why we can feel guilty for enjoying festive treats. At the end of the day, though, no food is inherently “bad” or “good”. Because a) food cannot have a moral value (it’s inanimate!), and b) nutrition is not as binary as “healthy/ unhealthy” anyway. And if anyone else ever comments on what you’re eating, you need to either distance yourself from them (if applicable) or speak to them about this so they can learn and stop doing this.

my speculoos (biscoff) and apple bagel from Bruges… best thing ever!
Moving forward…
  1. Unfollow unhelpful accounts on social media that make you feel guilty for eating whatever it may be. Your feed should be personalised to YOU, so cut out the toxic contributors to it! I recommend @lucymountain and @laurathomasphd for some great content.
  2. Read headlines and news articles with a large degree of scepticism. At the end of the day, they’re probably written by someone promoting a “low calorie” alternative product/ who profits from scaremongering.
  3. Choose who you surround yourself with. I know this is only feasible to a certain extent (we all have that family member who says inappropriate things RE food at Christmas), but be aware of who has a good effect on you, your mood and your relationship with food, and who has the opposite.
mum’s main at #food in Bruges
Food Guilt from Within

I am my own worst critic. I know that, and I;m sure many of you will recognise yourself in that phrase. In the past, I have restricted and over-exercised A LOT over the festive period. For every treat I indulged in, my workout would have to increase by X amount. Going all out on Christmas day meant restricting for the following few days. A vicious cycle that inevitably led to low moods, guilt, anxiety, irritability, tiredness… the list could go on. If you have previously had an eating disorder or currently have one, then I know that the Christmas period can be a huge source of anxiety. It implies disruption to eating and exercise habits (and routine in general). It may or may not involve fear foods and stressful situations.

my main from #food

However, also know that it is a time for friends and family. For creating lasting memories and spreading love and joy. For reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the next. So rather than stress about this break to your routine, view it as a chance to both challenge yourself and relish in the incredible memories you will create. And remember that you never EVER need to “earn” your food.

brother and cousin at grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary yesterday!
Moving forward…
  1. Try to be flexible with your exercise routine. Chances are, gyms/ leisure centres will be closed on Christmas day. Rather than punish yourself for not exercising, view it as an opportunity to make the most of the day with friends and family and give your body some much needed rest. You will not look back at Christmas day and remember that workout you did!
  2. Remind yourself that you are not “bad” for eating more than you would usually. It is perfectly ok and normal to eat past feeling comfortably full! Savour the flavours, colours and variety of your meal rather than avoiding things.
  3. At the end of the day, Christmas only comes around once a year. A few days of festivity aren’t going to “ruin” you (whatever that means!).
mince pie nicecream… which FYI is NOT a “substitute” for mince pies, but a way of furthering my love for them hehe

I hope you have found this post useful and helpful. Personally, I’m looking forward to the big day and definitely will be taking a rest day. It’s all about balance – including balance itself!

Emma ♥♥