How Holiday Over-Eating Can Be a Gift

How’d the food-thing go this Christmas?

If you’re happy with how things went – fantastic! If you’re not so happy, that’s OK too because there’s valuable meaning in our messy eating experiences if we know how to mine it out.

Let’s talk it through and see what we can discover…

TAKE 5: First, take 5 quiet minutes to reflect. I know, I know, it’s not easy, but a little rumination changes everything. Just sit still. Quiet your mind and allow your body to relax. Think back on your eating experiences over the past few days.

FIND A POSITIVE: Try to identify one moment when your interaction with food was wonderfully satisfying. There was a lot of pleasure and peace in that moment.

What exactly was going on in your thoughts, your actions and/or your environment that made that such a good experience?

If you had one of those moments, acknowledge it. Examine it with curiosity. Share it with someone else on this food journey so they can bear witness with you. Mark it so you can remind yourself that you indeed can relate to food in this way.

Let each positive experience become a confidence-building guide for you.

REDEEM THE NEGATIVE: Now, without self-criticism, reflect on an eating moment you are not happy with? What was happening? Was there shame or anxiety around eating “fattening” or “illegal” food? Did you feel driven to over-eat by compulsion or distraction or secrecy or decades of old holiday habit? I encourage you to acknowledge and explore this too. Making space to understand what happened without judgment takes the power from it and gives it back to you, where it belongs.

RIGHT NOW: This is the time to do this good work, while it’s fresh. Next weekend we get a do-over! New Years is gonna give us another opportunity to step into a holiday feast scenario, this time with full awareness.

We can relax and eat food we love. 

We can slow down and enjoy it for all it’s worth.

We can enjoy an amount that feels great. 

The beautiful thing about approaching food in this way is that it spills over into how we approach Life. You’ll be more deeply connected to yourself, others, events, and moments.

Nurturing liberated eating cultivates The Art of Living Awake.

That’s a pretty amazing gift to give yourself in 2018!


Thank you for the chilly photo  Arnold Exconde on Unsplash

The Mindset That Conquers Trigger Foods

Holidays can be intense! Especially in the food category. Even seasoned intuitive eaters can be surprised by some almost-forgotten compulsive food-feelings this time of year. Certain goodies, situations, people and places trigger old patterns of overeating.

One way to strengthen ourselves as liberated eaters this time of year is to    intentionally revisit how we think now, compared to how we used to think.

Let’s compare these two very different mindsets: the old restrictive diet-mentality that trapped us on the diet/binge roller coaster – and – the liberating mindful mindset that connects us to our bodies and ourselves again…

Old mindset: {anxious and intense}

“This is special food!!! It looks sooo good – and it’s sooo bad!!! But… I don’t get this very often so I better eat a LOT of it now!!!”

New mindset: {peaceful and grateful}

“Holiday fare is a gift. I’m going to enjoy it and honor this time of year (and my health) by savoring it…

There’s nothing I have to overeat in order to enjoy it fully.”

Old mindset: {false hope of a future quick fix}

“In January I’m gonna go on the best diet ever and this time I’m gonna lose all this weight once and for all. I’m gonna detox and exercise and eat clean for the rest of my life!  So… I better eat all the bad stuff I can now.”

New mindset: {permanent livable solution}

“Every day I can have a delicious, calm, balanced relationship with food and my body. I don’t have to live with the extremes of too-much or too-little anymore. I can enjoy satisfying portions of the food I love every day.”

Old mindset: {shame and harsh judgement lead to repeated behaviors}

“OH NOOOO!!! I blew it AGAIN…how can I be so weak and incapable? …I’m hopeless … I might as well stuff myself.”

New mindset: {mercy leads to kindness and change}

“Hmmm, I just ate past satisfied. Whew, I don’t like that old stuffed feeling. That’s ok! I don’t have to do this perfectly. I’ll take great care of myself by listening closely to my body. I’ll check in and wait for physical hunger before I eat again.”

As we step away from emotional knee-jerk reactions and into a real relationship with food, the old triggers and patterns begin to fade. A flexible, enjoyable food-life begins to grow – not just on normal days but during the messy, fun, hustle-bustle of the holidays too.


Yummy thanks for the Photo by Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash

I Pigged Out!!! Now What?!?

Let’s assume you’ve gotten off the exhausting diet/binge roller-coaster and you’re now building a sane relationship with food. You’ve been practicing waiting on hunger, choosing food that satisfies, savoring it fully and stopping when you’ve had enough. What’s not to love?! You’re feeling good in your body and mind and you intend to continue living this way.

Then, the holidays hit.

What’s felt pretty balanced begins to feel messy and confusing again. Food is everywhere – and not just any food. It’s special food…food most of us have a long, tangled, emotionally-charged history with.

So, what do we liberated eaters do when we stumble back into old patterns?

Unlike our old dieting days, overeating doesn’t have to send us tumbling into a shame-filled downward spiral. This time we can actually redeem our stumbles. In fact…

We can learn more from doing it wrong than from doing it right.

Let’s take 3 Logical Lessons from the “Normal” Eater’s Playbook:

I. Relax, everybody overeats sometimes. Normal eaters don’t catastrophize overeating. We don’t have to either. Take a few deep breaths and acknowledge that this is not the end of the world. You’re not “bad” because you’ve overeaten. You just feel bad.

II. Don’t punish yourself. Normal eaters don’t chastise themselves after they’ve overeaten. No extreme diet, exercise or cleanse is required. This foundational difference is one reason normal eaters don’t continually swing between eating too little and eating too much.

III. Go right back to what was working. Normal eaters are in sync with their body, so feeling uncomfortable elicits a natural response – not an emotional knee-jerk reaction. They may take a walk, skip the next meal or not eat till the next day. They may prefer lighter foods after a heavy meal. This isn’t about penance; it’s about listening to your body which is naturally seeking balance and health.

We have plenty of ways to remember to eat mindfully and joyfully this time of year – and – its mighty good to know that an overeating experience doesn’t have to hijack us or our holidays.

Mercy opens the door to wisdom, peace, and balance – three things we’ve been hungry for for a long long time.


*Thanks to TOMKAT Studio for the delicious photo

3 Powerful Mindsets That Bring Food-Sanity To Holidays

When it comes to food, what’s happening between our ears is much more important than what’s happening on our plates, because what we believe determines our behaviors.

This is never truer than around the holidays.

Let’s take a look at 3 powerful perspectives that’ll help us navigate this time of year well:

I. Choose a connoisseur mindset. It’s OK to be picky. Food is everywhere so it makes sense to be choosy. Thinking like a connoisseur helps you identify what will satisfy you most. Don’t love canned green beans? Don’t eat ‘em. Being intentionally discerning cuts down on eating a lot of food automatically and unnecessarily.

BIG PAY-OFF: As you choose the foods that really jazz you (rather than choosing what you should eat or just eating everything because it’s there) you will naturally enjoy it more and eat less.

And here’s something really cool: Liberated eaters say that as their mindfulness grows so does their  appreciation and awareness of all the other good stuff too – holiday feelings, sounds, smells, sights, and the people they’re with.

That’s a win-win!

II. Choose a journey mindset. Becoming a more mindful, intuitive person (which is what liberated eating is about) is not like flipping on and off a light switch or falling on and off a wagon. It’s a true pilgrimage – a life-changing journey of self-discovery.

BIG PAY-OFF: Having this mindset keeps us focused on our discoveries and progress rather than getting hung up on inevitable mistakes and then harshly condemning ourselves for them. This relieves us of the pressure to eat perfectly, which isn’t possible or even necessary.

It also keeps us from doing that crazy thing I used to do: Trying really hard to “be good.” Eventually “blowing it.” Starting to plan the next Big New Year’s Diet, which led to over-eating my way all the way through November and December.

Sound familiar?

III. Choose to be gracious with yourself. Overeating sweet potato casserole doesn’t make you a bad person; it just makes you feel bad. If it happens, let go of berating yourself.  It. Will. Not. Help.

If self-criticism worked, we would’ve all been thin a long time ago.

BIG PAY-OFF: People who step off the food-shame train and give themselves grace to be human open up fresh, new space to learn and change, permanently. They begin to see what’s happening with a clear head and can begin to build the lifestyle they really want.

Grace also allows us to have a sense of humor – and that makes everything better.

So there you have it.  Savor. Discover. Forgive.

Imagine what these holidays might be like if you decide to walk through them as a gracious connoisseur on a holiday journey…

4 Powerful Ways To Handle Halloween Candy This Year

October 31st kicks off our holiday season in just a few days. Let’s look at four ways we liberated eaters can navigate it with cool-headed finesse:

1) KEEP YOUR MINDSET ON “LIBERATED SETTING” – Mindset matters most of all. If the old food-anxiety begins to rear its compulsive head just remind yourself that you and food are friends now. You have a peaceful relationship, and you are growing more mindful and intuitive every day.

2) DECIDE AHEAD OF TIME – Pre-determine how you want things to go, before the candy is in the bowl.

Think it through. It may not look the same every year. This year you may want to:

  • HAVE SOME: You might choose to savor some of your favorite candy, enjoying it fully. Decide on the amount, the place and a time that feels safe and positive for you to enjoy this intentional treat.
  • HAVE NONE: You might feel more peaceful about not having any at all this year. Perhaps you feel that one piece will lead to the whole bowl. Trust yourself to know what’s best for you right now. What will bring you the most peace? Take good care of yourself by eating other foods you enjoy.

3) MAKE A DECISION ABOUT LEFTOVER CANDY NOW – This one is critical and easy to overlook. We can do the intentional work of being mindful during the holiday and then find ourselves caught off-guard by leftovers. Go ahead and decide what you want to do the day after Halloween. Would you rather give it away or toss it in the garbage disposal? What will happen if you do neither?

Give yourself full permission to throw it all away – guilt free. It’s served its holiday purpose.

4) GIVE GRACE – No one walks this journey perfectly. If you happen to fall back into old patterns: acknowledge it, treat yourself kindly and see what you can learn from the experience. What safeguard, tool or thought might have given you a different outcome? Don’t be discouraged because relapses normal and are our very best school!

As we move toward this special time of year, decide to have a journey mindset. Be curious. Anticipate good things. Be open to discovery. Picture yourself getting stronger, wiser, freer and more peaceful with food with each passing holiday.

Each one is a part of your story.

Each one is an opportunity to know yourself better than you ever have before.