November 25, 2020

How to Not Diet This Holiday Season

The holiday season can be a source of stress when it comes to our body image. If you feel compelled to diet, if you’re struggling with your body image, this post is for you.

By Charis Stiles, LCSW|Adulting

This is prime time for diet talk and body shaming. 

The holiday season is usually all about either starting diets or planning diets for the new year. 

But, you may be making resolutions around loving yourself more or becoming more body positive. 

It can be hard not to be drawn into weight loss ads and peer pressure. 

It may be especially hard as so many of us have been stuck at home during the pandemic and are dealing with new levels of holiday stress. 

So how to stop the ugly cycle of yo-yo dieting this winter?

Here are a few tips on how to not diet this holiday season:

1. Commit to getting off the dieting hamster wheel. It may be helpful to write out the reasons why you are committing to body acceptance and saying no to diets. How does this align with your deepest values? Trust that this path is all about accepting yourself and being compassionate with yourself.

2. Honor your feelings of grief, fear, and insecurity, as well as your dreams. What are you leaving behind when you stop dieting and what are you gaining? Giving up intentional weight loss means letting go of the hopes of a perfect body, which often means facing the fears of being unlovable, being unworthy, and being rejected. But, body shaming and dieting also keep us small in an emotional sense. It takes our energy and attention while draining us of our passions and dreams. As scary as it can be, giving up dieting actually sets us free.

3. Communicate and set boundaries around diet talk and body shaming. If your coworkers or family have a history of diet talk, find ways to limit your exposure. You may gently communicate with them about how this hurts you, or it may mean leaving the room when diet talk is initiated. You can use humor, or you can be as direct as you like. You’re setting this boundary for your mental and physical health, so it is valid and important.

4. Learn new ways to work with anxiety and feelings of being out of control. It can be anxiety-producing to not have something tangible to manage; diets can often function as a way for us to direct our anxious tendencies. The thought of bingeing more can feel scary. It’s important to find new tools to manage anxiety, such as journaling, listening to calming music, or trying a meditation app. Therapy may be a helpful resource, too!

5. Don’t get caught in “all or nothing” thinking. Watch out for this common mind trap! Setting up binaries in our mind, like “either I lose weight or I’ll never find a partner”, just keep us stuck. They’re almost always false and they don’t help move us forward towards our goals. Learn to observe these thought patterns as just that- thoughts and not absolute truths. 

6. Find an ally, or two or three. There is something very countercultural about not dieting. You are going against the norm, and this can feel very isolating at times. Make sure to find an ally, someone you can go to when you feel tempted to body shame yourself. It’s awesome to have more than one ally and there are so many online communities available to support you.

7. Use social media intentionally.  It’s okay to temporarily mute a friend who is posting their Whole 30 pics on Instagram! Give yourself permission to curate your social media feed so that it supports you instead of triggers you. You can then fill up your feed with fat positive, body-loving content to give yourself a safe refuge.

8. Find pleasure in eating, moving your body, and connecting with yourself. Pleasure is an important part of healing our relationships with our bodies. This time of year is actually about abundance, instead of restriction. There are so many new body-positive virtual exercise and gentle yoga resources- try one out! Delight in a crisp walk in nature, or indulge in a sensual warm bath at home. As we roll into winter, take great pleasure in keeping your skin moisturized with daily lotion routines, for instance. Lean into the abundance. 

You can make it through this holiday season without having to hate your body. 

This is a great time to dedicate yourself to compassionately reconnecting with your body, and it may be helpful to have a therapist to assist you in that journey. 

You don’t have to go through this alone.  All our therapists at Evergreen are weight neutral and informed by Health at Every Size (HAES). 

Please feel free to reach out to us to set up a complimentary consult call or a Personalized Matching Consultation with our Clinical Intake Coordinator so we can match you with the best therapist for your situation.

Medical Disclaimer

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