The Worst Thing To Do After A Weekend Of Holiday Eating
If you’re feeling full of regret this morning over what you ate over Easter weekend, first and foremost - let it go. It's not helping.
Your worth as a human is not determined by what or how much you eat - nor is it determined by how much weight you gain.
And no matter what you eat or don't eat, promising yourself you’re going to “be good”, "fix it" or "make up for it" today (by restricting) is one of the absolute worst things you can do.
It’s a huge part of what drives that cycle of “falling off track” and always trying to start over.
Here's how Easter used to go for me:
- Buy and eat a dozen bags of Easter candy before Easter even arrived + buy my own stash for Easter weekend so I wouldn't eat all my daughter's on her
- Get up, promise I wasn't going to eat myself sick while shoving candy in my mouth
- Shove candy in my mouth while my daughter went through her Easter basket + make her hide all her candy when she went through it. Because if it wasn't hidden, I'd eat it all
- Skip eating breakfast because my stomach was upset from eating a pound of candy for breakfast BUT keep shoving candy in my mouth all morning
- Argue with myself with every piece I put in my mouth. "THIS is the LAST piece I'm going to eat!" I'd promise - while continuing to just eat piece after piece all-day, crapping on myself the entire time and promising to "get back on track tomorrow"
- Not eat lunch because - candy! - then stuff myself even sicker on Easter dinner
- Go to bed feeling like absolute garbage and throwing up in my mouth I was so full before waking up with a food hangover from how much candy I ate
That was how basically every holiday went for most of my adult life and frankly, it was awful.
It was awful because of how it made me physically feel but also the way it made me feel emotionally, to be that controlled by food, was just as bad or maybe even worse.
Not to mention beyond exhausting.
And why? One of the biggest reasons was because I was spending my life trying to “be good” and eat what other people told me I should.
Them: Live on grapefruit for “X” amount of time? Me: Ok!
Them: Don’t eat fat? Me: Ok!
Them: Oh no wait, you can eat fat after all, but only these fats. Me: Ok!
Them: Don’t eat carbs? Me: Ok!
Them: Oh no wait, you can eat carbs, but only these carbs. Me: If you say so.
Them: Don’t eat eggs? Me: Ok!
Them: Oh no wait, you can eat eggs after all. Oh FFS, ok.
Unless you have a specific medical condition that requires it, the only person that should ever be telling you what to eat or not eat is a registered dietician specifically trained in treating your condition and even then, it shouldn’t be treated as, “eat this not that”.
She should be working with you to understand your behavior patterns around food so she can help guide you towards more life-affirming choices.
NOT telling you what to eat and not eat.
Because it almost never, ever works …at least not for any length of time.
And it’s downright harmful.
Why? Here are a few reasons:
- Every single body is different and NOBODY knows what makes your unique body feel and function its best is your own body--and it’s working 24/7 to communicate that with you. Knowledge and information isn’t the problem, distrust in, and disconnection from, your body is the problem.
- Why do we distrust? In large part, because of other people telling us what to eat. And then when we can’t stick to it, (which nobody can), the fact that we end up caving reinforces that distrust. So we try harder. And “fail” again. Tune in to this podcast episode for more on why it's so hard to trust ourselves with food.
- How do we get disconnected? Trying to force ourselves to eat what someone else says we’re supposed to forces us to ignore what our bodies are telling us they want and need in lieu of trying to make ourselves do what someone else says we should. That's actively unhealthy in so many ways.
- All of which creates really unhealthy thought and behavior patterns around food and our bodies.
How can we ever learn to trust ourselves if we trust that someone else knows better than we do what our bodies need and want?
How can we ever learn to trust ourselves if we don’t trust ourselves to make this most basic of human decisions for ourselves?
And if we don’t trust ourselves, how can we ever break those unhealthy and self-destructive patterns around food?
Hear me when I tell you this… if you’re waking up after Easter weekend feeling full of regret (or physically unwell) because of your choices over the weekend, the worst thing you can do today is a “detox”, “cleanse” (those are bullshit with no reputable science behind them, btw), restrict, or promise yourself you’re going to be good.
You’re an adult. You can eat alllll the Easter candy in the world if you want to.
BUT. Consider, how is eating more going to make you feel? Do you want to feel that way? If you hear yourself think, “don’t care”, why don’t you care that you’re about to eat something that you know is going to make you feel sick? Don’t you want to feel good? Don’t you deserve to feel good?
These are the questions that matter.
Not what restrictive diet or cleanse you should start.
And try practicing SANER:
- Stop: Before you eat, stop for a second. The goal with this pause is not necessarily to stop you from eating but to give you space between impulse and action to make a conscious choice. It's in this space where we become empowered to learn to make our own choices and start rewiring the auto-pilot habit of reaching for food for everything. (if you're actively bingeing & stopping before you eat feels impossible, it's okay. Just skip this step for now and move on to the next while you're already eating. If you keep forgetting to practice, try setting reminders in your phone around the time you typically eat.)
- Ask: Using the questions below as an example, explore what you want, why you want it, how you feel and how you want to feel.
- Notice: After asking the questions just notice - what are you thinking about? What were you thinking about just before you decided you wanted to eat? What do you feel? That is, emotionally, but also physically. Where do you feel it?
- Extend: Make a purposeful effort to extend yourself compassion and kindness in whatever way feels right to you. Allow whatever you're feeling and whatever choice you make to be okay.
- Respond: Respond from loving-kindness. Let whatever choice you make, be done with love. Even if it ends up being a binge - try to respond from a place of loving-kindness. You can even remind yourself that you deserve love and ask, is this a kind, loving choice? What would be a loving choice?
EXAMPLE QUESTIONS (for #2):
- What do I want to eat?
Remember that you're allowed to eat whatever you want. There are no rules or judgments so what do you feel like having?
- Why do I want to eat it right now?
Why do you want it? Connect with your body and notice, are you physically hungry? Or no? And why do you want that particular thing?
- How will it make me feel if I eat it?
Start paying attention to how you feel after you eat everything and with that knowledge, before you eat anything else, ask yourself, how will I feel if I eat that?
- Do I want to feel that way?
No judgment is allowed behind the answer to this question because sometimes you're just not going to care how it makes you feel and you'll eat it anyway but this is where major insight can happen. See question 5 if you don't seem to care.
- Why do I want to feel that way? Don't I want to feel good?
Do you recognize the choice is going to make you feel like crap but you don't care? Ask: why don't you care that you're about to eat something that's going to make you feel gross? Why would you want to make yourself feel sick? Don't you want to feel good? If you constantly notice not caring & eating the thing anyway, it doesn't mean you're hopeless, it just means you probably need to work on learning to love and value yourself enough that you start caring more. That's what I had to do and what I help clients within the Academy.
This practice is powerful and super effective - when it’s used but it’s not easy to remember to do it, and sometimes you’ll likely notice yourself resisting doing it even if you do remember.
That’s okay. It’s normal to resist change so be patient with yourself and keep at it.
And know that the Academy was created to help. It will teach you how to use this tool most effectively, along with many other tools to help.
What happens when you relearn trust and stop trying to eat what someone else says you should?
Well, let’s use me as an example again.
Let's look at my Easters (all holidays) now in comparison:
I donn't have a single bag of Easter candy in the weeks up to Easter because I just didn't think or care about it (although I typically have a couple cream eggs when they first came out, I'm not a complete robot 😊)
I get up and have a normal breakfast like every other day without thinking about candy once
(this particular year) I have a couple little mini cadbury eggs later in the day and didn’t want any more than that
I just don't think about the Easter "treats" or care about them anymore.
There’s no more bingeing or even overeating it (or the holiday meal) until I’m uncomfortable. No feelings of bloat or discomfort, no promising to "start over tomorrow", no arguing in my head over what I should or shouldn't eat, no regrets, no feeling sick - and no needing her to hide my daughter's Easter candy because I can’t control myself with it.
All of those behaviors are completely gone.
They simply do not exist in me anymore and that’s due, in large part, to the fact that I stopped listening to what other people say I should eat.
It IS GLORIOUS.
And that's life now - yes, even on the holidays! *cue the heavens opening and angels singing
Just living and eating -- trusting myself and my own body over anyone else and actually wanting to eat in ways that make me feel good.
I honestly can't even express how glorious it is.
The difference is that now, nothing is ever off-limits and I trust my own body more than other people's voices.
The before story was largely driven, at least in part, by my fear of "bad" foods and constant attempts to "be good" by eating what, when or how much other people said I should.
I don't care about candy anymore because I allow myself to eat as much of it as I want, anytime I want.
I could have eaten allll the Easter candy. I simply don’t want it anymore.
For more on why trying to force ourselves to stop eating the "bad things" (like Easter candy) is significantly less healthy than just allowing ourselves to have whatever we want, check out this past podcast episode: Fear-mongering & food demonizing - why it's actually healthier to let yourself eat the "bad" things than try to restrict them
I say all that because YOU can have this too. With everything in me, I know that you can have this too.
You CAN break the cycle of obsession, control, suffering and never-ending feelings of failure.
You CAN experience the peace and joy of living through holidays without eating yourself sick - or extraordinary attempts to "be good" and "control yourself" out of fear of eating yourself sick.
There's not a single doubt in my mind that my process can change everything for you.
It is NEVER too late and no one is EVER hopeless.
It starts with tuning out other people’s voices, rebuilding trust in yourself and changing why you’re stuck in patterns with food that don’t serve you.
If you're ready for the forever kind of shifts that come from uncovering and changing your whys, register for the waitlist here.
EMBODIED COGNITIVE EATING TRAINING CAN HELP YOU
The Academy is a specialized group coaching course. It combines a wide range of scientifically proven, evidence based modalities into an easy-to-follow step-by-step process that helps you understand why you can't stop eating in ways that don't serve your best interests and how to stop. It has been meticulously crafted and tested for almost three years with one goal in mind - helping you move past all the things that are keeping you stuck repeating the same self-destructive patterns so you can find peace and start living and feeling better.