Five Ways to Indulge the Holidays Without the Guilt

Feelings of guilt and shame during the holidays are often associated with food. As a person who has always struggled with her weight, food, especially yummy holiday goodies, pose a real issue for my restraint, or lack thereof. Foods and drink that normally never appear in my path suddenly become a siren from the shore calling me to crash and get washed up on the rocks. I overindulge and then feel very un-holiday-like.

Obviously, there are other holiday issues that create discomfort and shame, like not feeling we’re doing or spending or hosting enough or wanting to spend more time alone without revelries and temptations. Regardless of what your challenge may be, there are ways to survive the holidays without guilt and regret for not being perfect.

  1. Breathe

Take a breath and be realistic about food and drink choices. One, two or more days or even a whole week of indulging in heavier, more calorie-laden foods won’t destroy your life. Take a breath at the beginning of each day and commit to do the best you can.

2. Take Care

Continue to maintain healthy habits like drinking water, moving your body, and getting plenty of rest regardless of how much you eat and drink. Routine healthy habits can get pushed to the side with an “I’ve already blown it, so what the heck” attitude. Keep doing healthy things even if you’ve overindulged.

3. Observe

It’s disappointing to many elders to see that we can become invisible as we age. They ‘whys.’ ‘what fors,’ and truth of that invisibility is for another post. Become an observer at functions and parties. Shift your focus from the food and drink to the people. I doubt anyone is keeping track of what you might be avoiding or not having on your plate or in your glass. If the source of your discomfort is interacting with others, just watch and see what happens … like a play you’re watching. Make a game out of being the most observant person in the room.

4. Plan

Before any event, visualize yourself there. Watch as you partake in all aspects of the celebration, including food and drink and visiting with others. From this visualization you can develop a plan for what you want and how you’re going to make that vision happen. See yourself being successful and celebrate someone else being the life of the party. And, if you aren’t successful, see #1 above and move on.

5. Learn

Regardless of how successful you are on any given day, at any holiday gathering, be it family or with friends, if things don’t go as you visualized and planned, let go of the judgment and move on. Do take time to see what might have thrown you off course and consider what might help you achieve your goals going forward.

All of these methods to deal with holiday stress are applicable to any kind of shame or feelings of guilt you might be experiencing. The basic overall approach is to slow down, be kind to yourself, and move on as soon as possible after all the celebrations. Let go of being hard on yourself. You are more than what you eat and drink — or spend money on or time with – during the holidays or any other time.

Bonus way to indulge:  have fun. Focus on sharing the fellowship of the season with loved ones and new acquaintances. It’s not a total failure if you didn’t do as you originally planned; another opportunity is right around the corner.