Live Chat 8am - 8pm
FREE Next Day Delivery on orders over £25
FREE lifetime support

Avoid food anxiety this festive season

The festive season is fun and joyful – but food during the holidays can be a source of stress and anxiety for some. Whether it be difficult family interactions, diet and weight talk or fears and anxiety over all the food and alcohol around at this time of year, it can cause you to feel totally out of control.

Often, when we set too many restrictions and avoid certain foods, this can create a sense of deprivation, which may eventually lead to binging or over-eating. Sound familiar?

Or perhaps you spend all year being ‘good’ with your food choices so that by the time the holidays roll around, you feel out of control and overwhelmed.

Practising intuitive eating can ease the tension and help you find more peace and joy with food. Here are our top tips: 

Do not plan to diet in January

Planning to diet or cleanse in January is a significant part of the reason why you may end up feeling out of control during Christmas time. Even if this is a subconscious thought, your body knows that restriction and deprivation are just around the corner. This upcoming restriction triggers mental deprivation and your body can react like it’s in starvation mode. This will then influence how you feel and behave around food. 

Give yourself permission

Avoiding certain foods around Christmas time causes cravings to increase, not decrease. This will always set up a feeling of being out of control around the foods you are not allowing yourself to enjoy.

Unconditional permission to eat means you give yourself the freedom to eat what pleases your palate and as much as you need to satisfy your body, without judgment or compensating for it later! It is about choice and self-trust. Decisions are anchored in attunement with our body’s hunger and fullness cues, awareness of our emotional needs, and a desire to truly nurture ourselves. Research has found that when people have made peace with food, then are given a variety of foods to choose from, they naturally choose mostly nutritionally healthy foods and some ‘fun foods’ – of which there are plenty during the Christmas season! 

Tune in

The festive period can feel stressful for some – there’s usually a lot going on! This can make it more challenging to be aware of your body’s cues and signals. Therefore it’s extra important to bring some awareness to your feelings of hunger, fullness, satisfaction and how your body is feeling overall.

Before eating, take a few minutes to assess your hunger level – how hungry do you feel? What are you in the mood for? What sounds good? Give yourself permission to eat whatever it is that sounds good, and pay attention to how your body feels as you’re eating it.

Don’t bank the big meal

‘Saving yourself’ for the big Christmas dinner usually backfires. By the time you allow yourself to eat, you are so hungry it makes it difficult to truly, mindfully enjoy the food or stop when you feel comfortably full. 

Allow yourself to eat as you normally would throughout the day and pay attention to your hunger cues. Eating consistent meals/snacks with plenty of variety and excitement will help satisfy your hunger and keep you from feeling deprived.

Be mindful of the ‘last supper’ mentality

The ‘last supper’ mentality is the idea that you have eaten ‘bad’ food or had a ‘bad’ food day, so you may as well continue to ignore your body cues – you’re going to “start a diet tomorrow”, right?! This can happen throughout the year but tends to happen more so around Christmas time. 

A bit like promising you’ll diet in January, work on removing the ‘all-or-nothing’ mentality that causes you to label certain foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. This means that no matter what or how much you eat, you can tune back into your body for the next meal. 

Set healthy boundaries

Being around friends and family during the holiday may mean opening yourself up to food, diet and weight or body talk. Navigating this may be difficult – setting boundaries can help. 

One way you can do this is simply by changing the subject to something more pleasant, in a friendly way. Or you may wish to be a little more direct and say something such as “I have a hard time hearing about people’s diets, do you mind if we talk about something else?”.

You could also excuse yourself and step out of the room. Give yourself permission to take a break if you find yourself getting overwhelmed – it’s OK to step away from uncomfortable conversations.

Remember, you have the right to set boundaries and protect your mental well-being.

Read more about eating mindfully and how it’s great for your digestion here –

Any questions? Contact one of our Nutritional Therapists via live chat, weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm.

Questions? Talk to a Nutritional Therapist on live chat!

More from The Gut Health Express