The holidays are upon us.
In the past, the word “holiday” has not had the easy-going feeling it really should have, for me—rather quite the opposite.
Over the years the inevitable celebratory events around this time have developed into repeated ceremonies of worry, anxiety, and helplessness, all because of the food I have faced there.
After each get-together of tacky sweaters, holiday music, gift exchanges and champagne, I would be left with a feeling of remorse over what I ate. I felt guilty over the lack of control that I had exhibited around and with the food being served. These decorated gatherings of family, shining lights and spiked eggnog became synonymous with the cycle of “eat-lots-of-food-and-hate-myself-for-it.”
I remember gazing at my calendar around this time several years ago, and realizing that a company party I was supposed to attend was happening that same week. My train of thought went something like this:
“Oh god, they’re going to have so much food there.”
“I don’t want to eat all that crappy food.”
“I’ll eat beforehand so that I won’t have to eat it.”
“Eff that, I’ll prepare my own food and bring it there.”
“Of course they’ll have junk food there. And after I eat it, I won’t feel good or want to socialize either.”
“I’m screwed. I’m fat, and I’m screwed.”
During this same train of thought, and after replaying it over and over in my mind, I had a flash of mindfulness and paused for a moment.
I asked myself,
“How can I think of this differently?”
“What would a new mentality about eating actually look like?”
“What would it feel like?”
After further internal dispute, I came to something of a conclusion: To change the relationship that I have with holiday grub, and eating in general, I would be wise to consider the following:
1. I was worrying about something in the future, something that hadn’t happened yet—something imaginary. Maybe this possible outcome that I am foreseeing will not actually happen. Can I invite some space into my thinking for the possibility that the outcome I am expecting won’t occur? And no matter the outcome, can I be open to it?
2. What would a new and unique experience around that company’s choice of food, look like and feel like for me, and can I invite this possibility into my thinking without diving into a deeper, more obsessive story?
3. The planning ahead mentality made me feel obsessive, and therefore stuck in my own body physically, without the freedom to breathe and be in the moment. What does not planning ahead feel like?
4. Can I connect with my food despite its genre? What does it feel like physically to eat chocolate cake, versus a salad? What do I notice about my energy? My breathing while eating it? The smell of the food? The taste the food has on my tongue, the feeling of it in my mouth? Can I treat the food as an item of nourishment, versus consuming it and then wishing it were a salad instead?
These questions allowed me to view my worry in a new light. One that initiated healing, and space. Space to trust the moment that was about to happen, and the moments that would occur at the holiday party.
It is our birthright as humans to heal ourselves.
Just because we’ve always done something one way, doesn’t mean this outlook has to continue.
We are free to think differently, to explore our mind by acting as a witness to our consciousness, therefore initiating healing. In this case, a healing that exists side by side with growth and building a healthier relationship around our food.
Author: Eileen Daley
Image: @nolatrees on Instagram
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren