Family, the Holidays, and Your Relationship with Food

We have entered the time of year where holiday gatherings are happening frequently and having a healthy relationship with food an be challenging. Spending time with family, specifically, can add additional stress to your relationship with food. 

We all initially learn how to nourish our bodies from our family or origin. These food practices are rooted in generations of culture and tradition, but can be skewed by diet culture beliefs. For example, your family might serve traditional foods every year at an event, but might also take the approach of restricting before or after to compensate for the meal. This comes up in friend groups too, but is often harder to navigate with family. In addition, challenging or doing things differently than your family’s beliefs and attitudes towards food can feel daunting or even impossible. So what can you do? How do you approach food differently this year with your family?

Manage your expectations about other’s relationship with food during the holidays

It’s important to be realistic about your family’s attitudes towards food and that this will not change overnight. It most certainly is unlikely to happen over a holiday gathering where stress and excitement are already running high. If it feels important, have a conversation with family beforehand to ask that food/diet talk be kept to a minimum- with the understanding that this can be difficult for people to avoid at the holidays and your ask may not be fully honored. You are not going to be able to change your family’s attitudes around food in one conversation. This takes time and patience. 

Check-in with yourself

It can be hard to assess your needs while at social events. Take a break every couple of hours to see how you are doing and what you might need. This might mean spending an extra 60 seconds in the bathroom practicing a breathing technique, taking a snack break, drinking a glass of water, or taking a step outside for fresh air. These moments are especially helpful when you hear a triggering conversation nearby.

Maintain your healthy relationship with food (and beverages)

Make sure that you do not compensate for an upcoming event. Eat your normal meals and snacks leading up to and after the event. Importantly, make sure you are drink plenty of water or non-alcoholic beverages throughout the day. It’s easy to forget to hydrate when there is a lot going on. 

holidays relationship with food Cat santa hat

Boo, our Chief Observation Officer, and the rest of us at Cultivating Courage wish you a wonderful holiday season! 

For additional self-care ideas to help during this holiday season, check out our 15 Self-care Ideas blog.