Over the past few weeks I've received a lot of mixed messages about holiday eating, overeating, and diets that all point back to our culture's tumultuous relationship with food. For those with eating disorders, body image anxiety, or any type of blurry relationship with food, the holidays can be unpredictable and triggering. It is when we are certain about how we feel and what is best for *us* during these situations that resilience begins to build. To get to this place, I've put together a guide for cutting through the noise and returning to a space of self-love, nourishment, and remembrance of what intuitive and joyful eating is like.
1. Food is symbolic of the nurturing, healing, and loving components of relationships. Our restriction, avoidance, or overindulgence of food mirrors the flow of love towards our Self and others. This is why food is highlighted during the holiday season. Remember the true symbolism of this nourishment and observe moments that make you feel stressed or anxious around it. Sometimes when we are not receiving enough nourishment in other areas of our life (romantic, career, family, etc.) we make up for this deficit with food. Think of three moments when you've enjoyed food without any judgment or guilt. To explore this further: Who do you feel most comfortable eating with and why? What is your relationship with this person or group? These answers help us pierce the veil of potential stressors to finally see old ways of thinking.
2. Each day invites us to awake with the goals of being balanced, aware, and open-hearted, regardless of yesterday. Be kind to yourself; ridiculously kind to yourself this month. It is easy to fall into a cycle of deep rumination over things that didn't work out quite the way you wanted. Catch yourself from slipping into this mode of thinking and resist the urge of projecting worries and shortcomings onto food. When we treat each day as a completely new start we liberate ourselves from the addiction of trying to make-up for yesterday, chasing perfection, and exhausting ourselves with the endless pursuit of being "good enough".
3. Look at your life journey as taking on the shape of a spiral, rather than as a straight road with bumps along the way. In a spiral, the lower loops represent life lessons that eventually return us to the top with wisdom gained during these lower points. Notice how the spiral grows outward, which means it takes longer for us to reach a low point once we've received the wisdom needed from a certain challenge at the bottom rungs. Treating each day as a new start is a highly personal offering of gratitude and acceptance towards self-growth. What better way to say "yes" to the celebrations awaiting you in December and beyond?
4. Maybe this year was especially symbolic of how much love you're allowing to come into your life or how much kinder you're being to your miraculous body or your new courageous way of living. Or maybe it is a marker of your health, career path, or emotional resilience for how far you have come to be able to enjoy and join others for this holiday. Honor this. In fact, write a word, sentence, paragraph, or create anything dated to look back at during this time next year.
5. Recognize yourself in the other. We are reminded that a lot can change in a year when we meet up with relatives or friends from our past who still see us in outgrown roles or not living up to their expectations. This only sets us back when we place value on their opinion. Have faith--a word we often forget is a verb-- in you, your dreams, every failure, and every obstacle. It took Thomas Edison over 8,000 tries before he got the concept of a battery right. Can you imagine what would have happened if he stopped after each failure to listen to what others (or that pesty relative...!) had to say about him or his experiment? Stand in a place where all questions and comments are received as coming from a place of love because this automatically shapes your reaction and holds the other person to a higher standard of acting. The conversation changes here. We are what we put out.
6. Which flows into another note: no relationships are perfect, but imperfection allows for the sweetness of forgiveness (with our Self and with others) to take place. Overtime, this turns into the divine salt of wisdom--a type of inner knowing that is created when we reflect on experiences in our life. It is a human gift to be imperfect. As we welcome others to celebrate with us during the holiday we remember this gift of the salt of wisdom that we wish to receive and share with others.
7. Lastly, we embrace our choices of food throughout the holiday season not to please others or to silence judgments or to avoid conflict, but to nourish our Self. In fact, we remember the power of grace in moments when an overly pushy person or the voice of self-judgment sneaks in, knowing in confidence that by taking a breath, standing in our power with kindness and truth (i.e., not passivity, but speaking from the heart--for example by asking ourselves, "what do I want right now?" or "what would make me happy and at ease?"), we actively engage grace and consciousness by bringing our focus back to the true invitation of a shared experience. Ultimately, grace is the ability to hold our values in any situation.
Together, let us realize this December and holiday season as an inspiring marker of who we are, where we are in our journey, and the joyful invitation of sharing this miraculous experience with others.