Tip Day Tuesday: Handling Holiday Food Freakouts

I got this email in my inbox last night from the always fabulous Michelle (aka The Fat Nutritionist), and, with her permission, I am sharing it with you. At the end of the list is a little promo for Michelle's Eat Without Drama groups, which I've heard are utterly fabulous. It's not a substitute for professional treatment, but I think they could be useful to some of my readers.

Hey you,
I hope you're doing okay and the term "freakout" doesn't apply to you.
But, after many conversations with students in my Eat Without Drama groups about the upcoming holidays, family food drama, and the Annual Campaign of Self-Hatred in JanuaryTM, it has come to my attention that these issues are urgent and deserve airing.
Here are some pointers to remedy holiday freakouts:
1. Provide yourself with food - if you're away from home, bring food with you if mealtimes are irregular and the groceries aren't yours. Make a special trip to the store if you can, and get some snacks you can keep in your room or hotel, if necessary.
2. Continue eating regular meals, even on holidays! Just because there's going to be a big, fancy dinner later, that's no excuse to go without. You don't magically stop needing to eat regularly because it's a holiday - have breakfast, lunch, and snacks if you need them.
3. Make weight talk a non-issue. Don't compliment others on their weight - just tell them you love them. If people want to talk about your weight, tell them you manage it privately and prefer not to discuss it. And if people want to complain about their own weight - especially while eating! -  insert a "Let's just enjoy this" or "I think you look great," period. Case closed. Change the subject.
4. Don't make comments on anyone else's eating, no matter how innocent or well-intended. Don't mention their picking up the salt shaker, or their love of stuffing, or ask why they're not eating something. Don't ask how their blood sugar or cholesterol is doing. Leave it be - in tense eating situations, it's best to zip the lip. Confine your comments to how wonderful the food tastes.
5. Give yourself permission to eat the food you really like, and remind yourself that it is okay to get as full as you want. It really is - if you get super-full now, you will probably just be less hungry later on. No biggie.
6. Don't threaten yourself by swearing to diet come Monday, or January 1st. This will only set up what I call The Last Supper Phenomenon, where you eat the entire house in preparation for self-imposed scarcity. Permission means you can eat as much as you want, from now on - not just until your next diet.
7. Make a new kind of New Year's resolution - like resolving to not weigh yourself anymore, or to eat three meals a day, or to actually take your lunch break at work every day. Commit the same zeal to self-care that you used to give to dieting.
I know a list of tips can only get you so far, so if you need more help, I've got some.
Normally, I do things in a series: a 12-week group, a 12-session program, and so forth. Well, not today.
Today, stuff is urgent, and the issues are of the acute variety - handling the imminent and impending holidays.
So I'm doing something I've never done before, and letting you pick just one or two sessions. No series required.
Between now and Jan. 30th, I'm opening up my calendar for some good old-fashioned quality time, one-on-one, with you.
We can meet right now if you need it, to gird up for what's coming, or we can debrief in January - your choice.
If you're just kicking back, eating some cookies, and feeling fine, I salute you. Go on with your bad self, and spread the love to anyone who might be having a rough time. 
The rest of you? Come with me. We've got some stuff to handle.

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Jenn said...

these are REALLY good tips! thanks for sharing and I hope your holidays are beautiful and ed free <3

Anonymous said...

I like the line "f you get super-full now, you will probably just be less hungry later on. No biggie.". I think there'd be much less freakiness about food if people were comfortable with this. If we have a work lunch, and I eat way too much, I probably won't be hungry for dinner, so likely it evens out in the end. I would find it restrictive to never be able to eat myself stuffed, just as I would feel restricted forcing myself to eat every 3-4 hours, whether I want to or not.

HikerRD said...

Good, practical advice! Nice to hear sensible guidance this time of year!

Anonymous said...

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Alyssa said...

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Shannon said...

I think it's great that your sharing such great tips on your blog! :)

Happy 2012!

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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