As the holidays get closer and closer, many women start to feel a familiar sense of anxiety. Whether they’ve been committed to a diet or simply wanting to stay at their current weight, some people feel like they have to restrict themselves during the holidays. It can mean missing out on some delicious meals, or when they inevitably splurge, those pesky feelings of guilt can come rushing in. But it doesn’t have to be that way! We talked to a dietician who says you don’t have to diet during the holidays to be healthy.
Claire Siegel is the founder & CEO of Flourish, a non-diet app that aims to help users be healthier. Part of her advice is for women to stop dieting during the holidays. Instead, Siegel suggests making other kinds of lifestyle changes to improve your health. “Let’s not forget that health is so much more than the food you eat! Health is physical, mental, emotional, and social.” Siegel says. “The holidays are an incredible time to focus on your mental, emotional, and social health. Take time off from work, enjoy the special moments that only occur once a year during this season, and be present with your loved ones — free from anxiety around food.”
Diets don’t have to be the only way to stay healthy during the holidays. They can sometimes be the opposite. That’s why finding lifestyle changes that work for you is a better way to approach health, Siegel says.
“Approaching health from a place of abundance can be an absolute game changer,” she says. “What can you do more of in order to support your health? That could look like drinking more water, incorporating more veggies, or intentionally eating a greater variety of foods.”
Why You Shouldn’t Diet During the Holidays
Another reason not to diet during the holidays is because of the guilt and anxiety it creates. As an example, Siegel points out the harmful cycle that comes from, say, eating a piece of pumpkin pie. If your diet prohibits desserts or carbs, the feeling of guilt will quickly set in after you’re done. That could lead to another slice since, well, you already broke the rule! But then you’re way too full and feel even guiltier and more anxious.
Instead, ditching your diet means avoiding this cycle, which can help repair your relationship with food. “The truth is, there is no need to experience fear, anxiety, or guilt with any food. This becomes apparent as you develop body wisdom by learning how food actually works in your body,” Siegel says. “This includes learning the basics of blood sugar management; the simple and sustainable practices that can support stable energy levels, healthy digestion, a thriving metabolism and happy hormones; and the factors actually involved in weight.”
Siegel says it’s important to find the key things that have helped you in the past when thinking about dieting. So if you lost weight on keto and enjoyed the food you ate, but gained all the weight back once you were done and didn’t like your mood, you can use parts of the popular diet that worked for you. If you liked the incorporation of healthy fats into your diet, you can continue that. But if you found that lack of carbs debilitating to your energy levels and overall mood, know that you need to make space in your life for carbs.
The mindset change won’t always be easy, and you might need help figuring out what’s best for you. “If you’ve been dieting for some time and feel overwhelmed by the conflicting information on the topic, I’d highly recommend partnering with a trusted expert who can support you with this information and a custom strategy to help you move forward.”
Maybe this is the year you can finally stop your diet during the holidays. Or if you’re not ready, make sure it’s a diet that isn’t making you unhappy. Your health, whether physical or mental, is always more important than a weight loss goal!
Flourish has credentialed nutrition and psychology experts inside of the community. You can sign up at https://www.weflourish.com/sign-up and use code WOMANSWORLD for a free private coaching session and 7-day free trial.