Navigating Food and the Holidays

Around the holidays, food is a big topic of discussion. Everyone wants to know what’s on the menu, who’s bringing what, and where is everyone going to be. Holidays alone can be stressful, but if you’re concerned about food, this can make it more difficult to enjoy the holidays. With such a large spread of food, there are so many decisions to make. There can also be a big concern about what family members may say if they notice you are or are not eating a lot of food like everyone else. You may be questioning: What will they say about my plate? Is this too much food? Should I add more to my plate? Am I going to eat all of this? Am I eating enough? In families who have a history of mentioning one’s weight, fixing food in front of everyone can be dreadful. The holidays can be a joyous time, but there are also a lot of other factors that play into this. To get you thinking about how you can possibly make your holiday a little better this year, here are a few tips that you can try when you have concerns about food:

Set boundaries with your family
Sometimes, family members feel the need to pressure someone into eating more food or less food. If someone offers you more food and you do not want any, a response could be: “Thank you, everything was good but I’m full now. I can take some to go, though.”  This will allow you to set a boundary between yourself and your family without further confrontation if that’s not what you’re looking for. If you’re comfortable with confrontation, you can be a bit more direct. For example, you may say “I don’t want to talk about how much I ate/my weight”.

Food and Love
Some people show their love through food. They may enjoy cooking or baking for others or trying other’s food. This is not the same for everyone. To express your love over the holidays, try thinking of ways you express or show your love and try to incorporate that into the holidays this year.

Bring something of your own
If the opportunity presents itself, offer to bring something you know you’re comfortable eating so that way you can have a little more control over what you’ll be eating.

Plan with someone you trust
If there is someone you trust at the gathering, try to create a plan when you start to become uncomfortable with the situation, no matter what it is. You can signal that you’re getting uncomfortable, and they can change the subject, or you can signal that it’s becoming too much and you need to step away for a moment.