Podcast Episodes

Prevent the Body Shame Spiral Over the Holidays With These 5 Simple Tips

December 12, 2023

Self-Paced Course: Non-Diet Academy


You'll also love

learn more

A Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) with a master's degree in dietetics & nutrition. My passion is helping you find peace with food - and within yourself.

Meet Katy

Body image during the holidays can be its own beast to deal with. Not only do we have our usual negative body image thoughts, but we’ve also got the added pressure of being around people we haven’t seen in a while, the culture’s obsession with “holiday weight gain” (more on this in a minute), and all of the seasonal foods that we are surrounded by. 

Let’s dive right into those 5 tips because you’re probably dying to know what they are, and I KNOW these are going to help you now and into the New Year. Let’s equip you with tools that will help you feel more comfortable with your body, and less worried about what others might be thinking or saying. (And if you need help with how to respond to comments about food or weight during the holidays, go back to this episode and listen because in it I give you scripts and example responses that you can use.)

Tip #1 for Navigating Body Image During the Holidays: Let Go of the Fear of Weight Gain 

You’ve probably heard that thing about how “the average person gains X amount of weight during the holidays.” 

But guess what? It’s a myth.

How do I know? I looked into the research (yes, they’ve actually studied this). The research shows that the average person gains less than one pound during the holidays. That’s right, tenths of a pound – which doesn’t constitute actual weight gain, and certainly isn’t something to be afraid of.

So let’s pretend that you didn’t have this fear looming over you every time you wanted to eat a piece of peanut brittle or have a peppermint mocha. Without the fear of weight gain hanging over your head, you’d be free to enjoy those foods, and you’d probably have an easier time listening to your body. 

This is easier said than done, but i want you to keep reminding yourself of this fact that holiday weight gain is like the boogey man in your closet – it’s not real. So stop letting that fear cause you stress and anxiety. Write this on a sticky note and put it on your bathroom mirror or your computer screen if you need it as a reminder. Holiday weight gain isn’t real. It’s a myth.

Tip #2 for Navigating Body Image During the Holidays: Normalize the Fact That Bodies Change

Our culture leads us to believe 3 faulty assumptions: 

  1. That our bodies shouldn’t change
  2. That if our bodies do change it means we are doing something wrong with our food our our exercise
  3.  That if our bodies change it’s a bad thing that must be fixed

Let’s back up here for a second and acknowledge a universal truth: BODIES CHANGE.

That’s how biology works. From the day you were born your body has been changing, and your body will continue to change as you get older. That’s a fact. It’s not a bad thing. It’s how we were made.

So if your body has changed in recent years, instead of looking in the mirror and picking yourself apart, or looking back at old photos and wishing you still looked like you did when you were younger, how about practicing radical acceptance of the body you have here and now. You’re not going to hate your body into morphing into the way you wish you looked. That’s such a waste of energy and it takes away from you being able to be fully present in your life right now.

When it comes to your body, and other people’s bodies, remind yourself that bodies change and that’s normal. 

Which brings me to my next point…

Tip #3 for Navigating Body Image During the Holidays: Don’t Make Comments About Your Body or Anyone Else’s Body

Let’s say you’re watching one of those awards shows where celebrities walk the red carpet. It’s so tempting to notice that one of the celebrity’s bodies has changed – maybe they lost or gained weight, maybe they’re looking older, maybe it appears they had some type of cosmetic surgery. You don’t have to comment on this. This is a really good way to practice self-restraint when it comes to body comments, because it’s so easy to blurt it out when we see someone on TV or online that we don’t know and who can’t hear us. Practice noticing the urge to do this, and not saying those thoughts out loud.

What’s interesting is that with practice, over time you have less and less urges to make those comments. In the beginning you’ll probably slip up a few times, because it’s so normalized for us to bash our bodies in front of other people, or to greet someone by saying, “You look so good, have you lost weight?!” It’s also easy to gossip about someone else by pointing out how they’ve gained or lost weight and to share your opinions on that. For women in particular, this has become such a common way that we bond with each other, and when you think about it it’s really sad. We can do better than that. 

When you see cousin Jennie at your family Christmas this year and she’s put on some weight, remember that you don’t need to whisper to your sister or your mom about it. Or if aunt Cheryl has lost tons of weight by doing keto this year that doesn’t mean you have to compliment her. I know this might be challenging, but it will make a difference for you over time, trust me on this.

Tip #4 for Navigating Body Image During the Holidays: Manage Your Inner Critic

It’s one thing to not say your thoughts out loud about your body or other people’s bodies. It’s another thing to deal with those thoughts that go through our heads all day everyday. 

During the holiday season your inner critic might be telling you things like:

  • Everyone’s going to think you let yourself go this year. 
  • Do you really need another piece of pie?
  • If you keep eating all those carbs you’re going to gain a million pounds.
  • You better hit the gym this week so you don’t lose all your progress.

It’s exhausting when these tapes are running through your head 24/7. So let’s look at how to manage your inner critic and quiet this chatter down.

The first step is to notice these thoughts. Get curious about them. And then ask yourself how these thoughts are making you feel. 

From there, let’s turn to self-compassion. You might be thinking, “Why on earth would I give myself compassion in this situation?” Well it’s because these harsh and negative thoughts from your inner critic are causing you pain. And you deserve compassion for that. 

The next step for managing your inner critic is to decide if you’re going to challenge the thoughts or defuse and distract from them. Both can be good options depending on the situation. 

Ok, moving on to the last tip…

Tip #5 for Navigating Body Image During the Holidays: Practice Body Kindness Each Day

Body kindness simply means being nice and caring towards your body each day. 

The cool thing is that this will look different on different days, and it doesn’t have to be grand gestures. It can be as simple as putting on lotion, or caressing a hot cup of tea, or going to bed 30 minutes early. 

The key isn’t WHAT you’re doing, it’s WHY you’re doing it. Your brain needs to connect with the story that you are doing this thing as an act of body kindness, otherwise it’s just a meaningless action. I could put lotion on my poor dry winter hands and it serves a purpose, but it FEELS very different if I am thinking about how I’m being kind to my body while I’m doing it and if I’m pairing it with love and compassion towards myself.

Think how different you’d feel if you practiced body kindness for the rest of the month instead of staying stuck in the thought loop of your inner critic and trying to restrict and control your food and force yourself to exercise as a form of punishment. You’ll feel SO much better if you are approaching your body with kindness. 

And don’t mistake kindness for “letting yourself go.” It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work out, or that you should just have a free-for-all with food through the holidays. It means that you are slowing down and recognizing what your body needs on any given day. 

Grab a free copy of my body kindness guide called The Daily 3 Body Kindness Journal. It’s a downloadable guide that comes with instructions and journal pages for how to pick 3 small things each day to do in the name of kindness towards your body. It will take you about 5 minutes each morning and I swear it will change the way that you approach each day and you’ll be so glad you did it. 

Ok let’s recap those 5 tips for navigating body image during the holidays:

  1. Let go of the fear of weight gain
  2. Normalize the fact that bodies change
  3. Stop commenting on your body and other people’s bodies
  4. Manage your inner critic
  5. Practice body kindness

What I love about these tips is that they are coming at this issue of body image from different angles. It’s not just the same old boring tips for using affirmations and stuff like that. These are things that are going to work together to help you put less emphasis on your appearance, to be less judgmental about yourself, to be more present during the holidays and to be able to ACTUALLY take care of your body in meaningful ways. 

Let’s get connected!

Join my FB Group Intuitive Eating Made Easy

Connect With Me On Instagram

listen & subscribe on your favorite platform:  Apple Podcasts  | Spotify | Deezer |  Google

Search for Episode 107-Prevent the Body Shame Spiral Over the Holidays With These 5 Simple Tips

Looking for more support on your journey to food freedom and body acceptance?

Leave a Reply