It's Christmas. Time of light, family, and sharing moments. Time of abundance of love, gratitude and forgiveness. Even so, for many, the small bright lights of the Christmas tree easily become a big spotlight, a siren, a panic button for those who see, at Christmas dinner(s), a massive threat to their body image. All of a sudden, good emotions, cherished memories and warm words are overshadowed by fear, shame, and guilt.
Today, we talk about fear of food abundance. Fear of losing control. Fear of the consequences of overeating. Rigid and inflexible views on food in all its functions and roles. To what extent are our attitudes towards food and the body, during the Christmas season, not truly pathological, in their overvaluation of body shape and weight and its control? What we eat does have an impact on our body, but this impact is not permanent, eternal and irremediable, and should never overrule other aspects of life and dictate our personal value.
Food is not just a source of energy, nutrients and calories. Offering food is an act of love, and a whole sensory splendor: on any family table there’s food, which brings us memories and helps us to make new memories, we choose special foods for special people and moments. Currently, intuitive eating is believed to be the healthiest way to eat, both physically and psychologically. This is based on a simple idea: being at peace with any type of food, and advocating attention to the body and its needs.
How, then, to have an intuitive diet this Christmas?
Don't restrict your food intake for fear of the days when you will “eat more than you sould” or “eat bad foods”. Instead, try to maintain a regular and balanced diet in the run-up to the festivities (or whenever possible!). Yet, strange as it may seem, restrictive eating behavior is one of the most powerful predictors of binge eating. In any case, if you are medically advised to avoid certain foods, you should continue to do so - only then will you meet your body's true needs;
Even before a table full of food, your body will still be able to tell you if you are hungry or not. Eat when you're hungry, before a Christmas meal and in a Christmas meal. If you arrive on festive days hungry, your body will certainly go into survival mode, “attacking” everything it sees. Stay tuned for satiety cues while eating, so you know when to stop;
There's nothing wrong with thinking about food in a functional way. Can you imagine having pleasure in making a Christmas recipe in a healthier way? So go ahead! Can't conceive of a recipe in a more balanced version, and do you think that if you do it, you won't feel satisfied? So adapt recipes other than this one, which is clearly important to you for reasons other than nutrition;
Respect yourself. Food really has an emotional value. There are foods that appeal to our sense of comfort, affection, security. However, food should not be seen as an emotion regulator. If you find yourself constantly resorting to food to regulate yourself emotionally, try to opt for other strategies. If you spend Christmas Eve compulsively eating, you won't be able to enjoy conversations, the environment, and others. Be mindful in these good times, try to live them fully, looking at your food carefully, chewing slowly, and truly savoring.
Finally, if you manage to fulfill all these points, please don't plan a diet as a New Year's resolution.