It’s the time of year again.
You know what I’m talking about. From Halloween to New Year’s Eve, where all the sweets and treats come out in full force, and it seems like the universe is plotting to take you down.
You may feel overwhelmed by the weight of it all. After all, history has taught you that you can’t make it through the holiday season successfully.
Maybe you can’t get by without eating all the holiday treats and feeling like a failure. Maybe you end the holidays vowing to be a better person and start the New Year on the latest detox diet. You are all too familiar with the guilt and shame that comes with holiday eating cycle and how this robs you of joy of the season.
You may have managed to contain some element of self-control over the year. Maybe you carefully avoid those treats that you know you can’t simply eat one of, or maybe you’ve skipped dessert and stayed clear from all the sweets. Maybe you’ve felt like you’re doing well on your latest diet and are worried about how this incoming holiday treat wave will sabotage your success.
Whatever you’re worried about, the fear is real and paralyzing, taking up that precious mental space as your thoughts are consumed about food and your body.
It may be hard to think about anything else when you mind is controlled by the rules that dictate what you should and shouldn’t be eating. Maybe seeing your spouse or kids eat those holiday treats creates more anxiety for you and sends you on the brink of losing your mind as these food issues become all consuming.
But have you ever stopped to ask yourself, where is this fear coming from and why is it controlling your life?
Do you ever feel like a failure at eating because you inhaled that bag of fun-sized candy bars or scarfed through a dessert faster than anyone could say, “Trick or Treat?”
Are you embarrassed that something as normal as food feels like such a struggle?
Does overeating or an emotional eating episode send you on a downward tailspin in self-loathing?
How many times have you stepped on the scale, only to feel miserable about yourself for the rest of the day?
I want to let you in on a secret.
You are not failing, mama.
That desire to eat all the holiday foods or binge on sweets doesn’t mean that you’ve screwed up or that you have no self-control.
You’re not a failure for wanting to eat all the things you don’t normally let yourself eat or for breaking all the “food rules” you’ve set in place to give you more “control.”
You don’t need more willpower, another diet or more ways to become disciplined.
What you need, sweet mama, is permission.
Permission to eat those foods you crave every year, like a slice of your Grandmother’s special holiday dish or the piece of pumpkin cheesecake everyone’s eating at your office party.
Permission to decorate holiday cookies with your kids and actually enjoy eating one too, not pretend like you don’t want one, only to eat a plateful once they’ve gone to bed.
Permission to actually keep food in its proper place, so it’s not stealing your joy, energy, and mental space.
And you know what?
When you’ve given yourself permission to eat, including all those sweets and treats that are normally off-limits, they suddenly lose their power over you. And when food doesn’t have power over you, you will have freedom to live a life that isn’t bound by what you can and cannot eat.
Let me tell you something else: feeling like a failure around food is NOT your fault. It doesn’t mean you don’t have enough self-control or will power. There is nothing wrong with you.
What’s to blame are the abundance of food rules: unrealistic food rules that make you feel unnecessarily guilty for eating or shameful in your body. (i.e: “Don’t eat sugar,” “Don’t eat carbohydrates,” “That’s not allowed on the diet,” “Don’t eat anything too high in fat,” “Don’t eat after 6 p.m.,” or “Don’t eat all day if you’re having a big meal at night.”)
You are not the problem.
Food rules and diets — THAT is what is wrong.
You weren’t made to live or thrive under a list of rules of what you should or shouldn’t eat. It’s not an issue of self-control.
The truth is that trying to follow a diet or a rigid set of food rules is like trying to negotiate with your toddler — you just can’t win. And it’s not for lack of trying, it’s that the rules of the game are created for you to fail. So why try to play a game where the odds are against you?
You can opt-out of diet culture NOW to enjoy a truly peaceful holiday season that doesn’t end with self-loathing or a New Year’s resolution to diet and start the cycle all over again. Because the truth is, there are no good and bad foods or rules you are have to follow. When you can let go of all those judgments and emotional hang-ups that you’ve attached to eating, you learn to trust yourself to make your own choices and view food for what is really is — just food.
So choose being present over being perfect with the way you eat (because no such thing exists anyway). Calm the food chaos by giving yourself permission to eat, taste, and celebrate.
Enjoy the treats, if that is what your body is craving. Take back for yourself what all the obscure food rules and dieting have taken away from you all these years. Take in the memories, the flavors of the season — because you deserve it.
This holiday season commit to putting yourself on a new path, one that doesn’t end in self-destruction.
Give yourself permission, not only to eat, but to embrace a new way of living that isn’t defined by your body size or what you can or cannot eat.
You can choose food freedom over food rules, and by doing so, you are choosing to live. You are choosing to be present for your children and experience the moments and memories that might otherwise be missed when your mind is imprisoned by food rules.
It’s never too late, mama. The time to start is now.
Remember: you are not failing. Start by giving yourself permission today.