How to tackle guilt during the silly season

Are you eagerly anticipating the start of the silly season (and holidays!), or dreading the craziness which inevitably emerges when you mix families/ food/ alcohol and the (second) weirdest year on record?! It feels like the perfect time to talk about how to tackle guilt during the silly season – and to be kinder to our bodies and minds.

For many, this time of year can feel challenging. ESPECIALLY if there is an already fraught relationship with food and eating… Instead of being a time of celebration, it becomes a time of consternation. Worrying about over-indulging, constant fear of gaining weight, imagining how your family will judge you for your body or appearance after a year (or two) apart, and guilt about the dessert… or the ham… or the pavlova you take a slice of every time you walk past the kitchen. Instead of being a time of relaxation and enjoyment, it can feel exhausting and stressful.

But it doesn’t have to.

As we temporarily step away from the routines and rituals which structure our daily lives, our mind can ring the alarm bells (often loudly!). These routines provide us with certainty and a sense of control, which means as we move into a more ‘fluid’ time of year, we lose trust in our capacity to honour our inherent needs and are instead filled with uncertainty about our ability to cope. We fear that, without the diet or meal plan or gym session, we will become chaotic eating machines. What follows is usually guilt and remorse for our apparent lack of willpower and self-control and a rollercoaster of emotions as we grapple with our constantly nagging inner critic.

So what can we do?

Firstly, BE KIND.

Our tendency is to berate ourselves for stepping outside the lines. A part of us is desperately afraid that if we ‘fall off the wagon’ it will mean we will never get back on again. We might find ourselves eating differently during the holidays, because it is a different time of year.  This in itself is JUST WHAT IT IS. It is what we MAKE THIS MEAN that ultimately creates dissonance. In other words, we eat a big slice of Christmas pudding.

The only truth here is that we ate a big slice of Christmas pudding. What we tell ourselves (ie what we make this mean!) is that we are hopeless/ have no willpower/ will get fat/ might as well eat everything all day long…/ fill in the blank… The truth is, you ate something. Full stop. It is what it is and instead of judging yourself for the choice you made, ask if you can accept this, with kindness, and move along. Fixating on every extra chocolate you eat will not change what happened, but it will create discomfort and anxiety.

Secondly, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

This one can feel a little challenging if you rely on a diet plan or eating regime to make decisions. Outsourcing our inherent body cues instead of paying attention to what we are feeling can mean we are very disconnected to what is going on inside. Taking a moment to breathe and notice your hunger, the sensations that are present and what it is you TRULY want can go a long way to nourishing yourself. And it’s not always food you are needing! In fact, oftentimes food is simply a convenient way to relieve stress, boredom or loneliness.

Being present with the sensations that arise in each moment and enquiring where they are in the body, as well as allowing them to move through us can mean instead of reacting by eating unconsciously, we are able to respond and meet our needs instead.

Thirdly, HONOUR YOURSELF + SET BOUNDARIES.

Find ways to support and connect to what nourishes you EVERY SINGLE DAY. Sometimes when we step outside of our day-to-day lives and get around family, we can get triggered. Creating a daily ritual or practice can be an incredibly powerful way to check in with yourself. And it doesn’t have to take a long time! Five minutes of conscious breathing, a quiet cup of tea on the grass, a morning shake or stretch or 10 minutes of meditation can bring us back into our sovereignty. Be honest with yourself and others about what you need so that instead of being at the mercy of the world around you, you can connect first to your intuition and be in service from there.

And finally, HAVE FUN!!

It’s been a year for all of us, so don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself! Laugh, connect, dance, eat, be merry. Life is short and we are here to experience it all. It’s ok to be who you are, your messy, beautiful imperfect self.

Lots of love, Jane x

Jane Holland Fertile Ground Health GroupWritten by Jane Holland, respected holistic Nutritionist at The Melbourne Apothecary, renowned international retreat facilitator, adored Deep Sleep Yin Yoga teacher.

Jane is running a free webinar on 11th January 2022 which will be available as a recording after the event. Register here to get free access Reprogram your relationship with food, eating & your body

Book in with Jane to understand and reshape your food story, build a healthy relationship with your food and body, and create behaviours in your life that support your healthiest self. (Jane is currently offering free 10 minute Nutrition consults to help you take action – when booking navigate to heading Nutrition > Free 10 min consult > Jane Holland)