The holiday season should be a joyous time, spending time with loved ones, enjoying time off work (hopefully), and connecting over meals and occasions. The holiday season can also be daunting and overwhelming if you currently or have struggled with your relationship with food. This holiday survival guide lists our top tips below to help you navigate through challenges that might come up this holiday season.

Be a part of the planning process

If you know your family always has a holiday party and dinner at your Aunt Sally’s house, ask Aunt Sally what will be on the menu and ask what you can bring to help. Knowing ahead of time what will be served can be helpful so you can create a plan with your dietitian on what foods and portions should be included in your meal to prevent restrictive or bingeing behaviors. This also helps give time to talk through your thoughts with your dietitian, therapist, and family to create a foundation of support for when you need it.

Incorporate mindful movement that feels good for your body

The winter months also come with the winter weather and conditions; so, the 10-minute walk you were able to go on twice a week in the summer and fall months is not feasible anymore when there is ice covering the sidewalks of the park. Be flexible with the type of movement your body may need in the colder weather, instead of walking outside you can walk on the treadmill at the local gym or try an at-home yoga video or sign up for that Pilates class you always wanted to try.

Many times, feeling the need to compensate for foods we have eaten may also come into play. If compensation thoughts creep up around the holiday dinners, parties, and events, take a moment to breathe and remind yourself that your body (and yourself) deserves the nourishment. No one day, one week, or one month of “unhealthy eating” will cause you to become unhealthy, so enjoy the foods guilt-free and shame-free with the people you love.

Know what is in season

With the colder months, many produce may be out of season and not as ripe as it may have been in the spring or summer months. It can be helpful to know what is in season in your state or in your region of the United States. Purchasing in season helps reduce costs associated with transportation, growing, and emissions that goes into harvesting a fruit or vegetable in a different environment. Common fruits and vegetables that are in season during the months of December, January, and February in Missouri are sweet potatoes, potatoes, butternut squash, broccoli, and spinach.

Be kind to yourself

If the holiday season is hard for you due to any reason, remember to give yourself compassion. Whatever you are going through can be hard and it is important to give yourself time to take care of yourself. The phrase self-care has always fascinated me because it implies that although we should give ourselves care, it doesn’t have a “standard definition” on what the frequency should be. And I think many times, we do one thing a week or one thing a month and call it self-care.

Imagine you have a garden that you care for in your backyard. Do you weed it and water it once a week or once a month and expect it to grow fruitfully? Or do you water it daily and weed it every couple of days to keep up with it? I personally use the term “self-keeping” instead of self-care since it implies that it is not a one-and-done thing, but more so an intentional act to keep up with the thing that matters the most, you. Just as you would do in a garden, incorporate a little more “self-keeping” into your daily routine, whether it be through shopping with friends, watching your favorite TV show, cooking a comfort meal, or laying on the couch cuddling your dog and doing absolutely nothing for 10 minutes.

The McDaniel Nutrition team wishes you a happy holiday season and a very happy new year!