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Practicing Self-Compassion with Food this Holiday Season

Avary Brinker

2020 has been stressful, hasn’t it? Now the holiday season is coming up which can add another layer of stress, but in a different way. For some, holidays mean togetherness, spending time with those who are important to you whether that be friends, family, a pet, eating a big meal, candy, whatever food you feel fits with the day. For others, the stress surrounding food can cloud the potential positivity of a holiday gathering with their people. Re-learning our thinking patterns surrounding food and the value we place on our bodies can be beneficial if we are willing to put in the work.

Dr. Kristin Neff describes self-compassion as the “practice of being kind and understanding when faced with something you don’t like about yourself”. Self-compassion is learning to show yourself the kindness that you give to others. How can we utilize this practice with food? Practice utilizing positive language towards yourself. The holiday season can impact the view we have of ourselves and the food we eat, which can lead to us putting more judgement and blame upon ourselves. Try practicing this shift in language towards your inner critic – think if you would say what you are saying to yourself, aloud to someone else. If you find yourself thinking it is too harsh, try shifting your thinking pattern and challenge those negative thoughts with kindness towards yourself. Pay attention to the feelings you find yourself having with food: if you feel excited about certain foods, go with it! Focus on that excitement and be mindful as you try it.

If you find yourself wanting to expand upon this idea of a mental shift with food after the holiday season is over, Evelyn Tribole created the self-care eating framework in 1995 called Intuitive Eating, which she has written books about. Intuitive eating includes 10 principles, such as making peace with food, respecting your fullness, honoring your health, and respecting your body, to name a few. Intuitive eating is an evidence-based model that can help us learn to trust our beliefs and thoughts surrounding food and our bodies. Evelyn says, “all bodies deserve dignity and respect” regardless of the time of year or season we find ourselves in.


https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/self-compassion-for-shame-eating-disorder-recovery-0302165
https://www.intuitiveeating.org/definition-of-intuitive-eating/


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