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14 Experts Share Their BEST Tips for Navigating Food Freedom & Body Image at Christmas

Holiday Foods Got You Feeling Stressed?

If you’re a woman who feels stressed or anxious about eating a bit differently than normal over the Christmas season and wants to actually enjoy the food without feeling anxious or controlled by it, you, my friend, are in the right place. 

So, instead of getting frustrated or stressed out, I want to help you enjoy and make the most of this Christmas season when it comes to your relationship with food and body image. 

If you want to better navigate your food freedom journey with peace this Christmas, these 14 tidbits from non-diet experts are here to help! 

Here are 14 different tips and strategies from experts all across the U.S., to help you navigate food freedom and body image this Christmas.

14 Food Freedom & Body Image Tips You Need To Hear This Christmas

Tip #1: “When/if you revert to old habits of guilt and shame while enjoying food at parties, remember Jesus modeled fellowship while eating and we should enjoy the goodness God offers in that.” 

You don’t have to let your holiday meals be wrapped up in counting calories or worrying about your macros.

Jesus modeled sitting around the table with his friends, breaking break and enjoying the company and the food.

If you notice you’re beginning to start the shame spiral, instead, shift to the benefits of friendship and fellowship, and enjoy the goodness that God is offering you in both of those.

–Tip provided by Amy Connell, CPT

Tip #2: “Notice what holiday foods you enjoy, and mindfully eat them when the opportunity arises.”

Take a look at what foods are being served on your holidays tables, and be sure to include the ones you don’t want to miss out on.

When eating, focus on things like the flavors and textures of those foods so that you can eat slowly and mindfully, savoring each bite.

And be sure to remind yourself that “guilt” is not an ingredient in any recipe 😉, including your favorite holiday dishes.

–Tip provided by Ruth Harper, RD

Tip #3: “Enter into the holidays thinking about how you hope to reflect back on it this time next year. Is it that you were proud of yourself for avoiding your grandmother's high calorie egg nog or that you actually were present with loved ones and gave yourself permission to enjoy food?”

When you think back to this Christmas next year, what do you want to remember?  Maybe it’s sipping on a delicious Chick-fil-A peppermint milkshake with a friend.  Or perhaps it’s baking and eating your mom’s famous secret family cookie recipe.

Do you really want to remember forcing yourself to get in a morning workout before allowing yourself to eat Christmas morning breakfast?

Go live the holiday you want to remember and that you want to tell your loved ones about in the years to come.

–Tip provided by Kristin Williams, CEDRD

Tip #4: “You can trust your body's design because you can trust the Designer.”

Your body was created and named good in Genesis.  It has the ability to communicate what it needs.

This holiday season, tune into the cues of your body, because you can trust your good body and its good design, which was made in the image of your Creator.

–Tip provided by Megan Becker, MPH

Tip #5: “Find pockets of rest. Slow down, and meet with God.”

It might feel impossible to rest when your to-do list is a mile long with gift shopping, party planning, or just trying to survive the demands of everyday life.

But be intentional to slooooow down and meet with God.

Make some space (even if it’s just a smidge) to rest and be present.

–Tip provided by Alyssa Pike, RD

Tip #6: “Stay in the Word and have a heart of worship.  The more we worship him, the less we’re tempted to make ourselves ‘better’ for the approval of the people around us.”

The more we stay connected with the Lord through scripture, the less we’re going to be tempted to be focused on achieving approval (aka - people pleasing) from those around us. 

A heart of worship is truly the key to keeping our eyes off of ourselves and onto Jesus and improving our body image.

–Tip provided by Heather Creekmore

Hear Heather's full episode on The Joy-Filled Eater Podcast HERE.

Tip #7: “Boldly put the Enemy back in his lowly place by reminding him of the truth of God’s grace, which is the antidote to shame.”

Leave it to the Enemy to take something that God intended to be a blessing, and turn it into a source of struggle and shame.

Jesus made a way for us to walk in victory when he ended this battle on the cross.

So this Christmas season, do what Jesus did when the accuser tried to sell him a lie.  He put him back in his place by reminding him of the truth of God’s grace.

Take a moment to sit in the stillness of God’s grace.

–Tip provided by Rachael Gilbert, MFT 

Tip #8: “Utilize the gift of acceptance to help navigate a negative relationship with food and body. Ask the Lord to help you not avoid but work through the difficulty this holiday season.”

If you can accept that you’re likely going to experience old messages, patterns, and struggles with temptation to think negatively about food and body, then you can make a plan to do something about it.

What if you were prepared to give yourself grace, and to sit with your negative emotions, giving them to God?

–Tip provided by Kristen Bunger, RD

Tip #9: “For the person who’s walking alongside someone with body image struggles, please know it’s important and necessary to just sit and listen and not try to ‘fix’ it.” 

Sometimes you or your loved one doesn’t need advice or a ‘solution’ to the challenge with food.

Dads, husbands, brothers, moms, sisters, and friends – you have permission to just sit down, ask your loved one what he or she needs, then remain quiet and just listen.

The gift of your presence is often the BEST thing you can provide as a means of support to someone you love who’s struggling with a negative relationship with food or body image.

–Tip provided by John Walsh

Tip #10: “Fall in love with the EXPERIENCE of eating. Enjoy the foundations of flavor... taste, texture, and temperature to help take the pressure off of how much to eat.”

Don’t make your Christmas meals just about the food. Think about the experience as a whole and how you can make it as enjoyable as possible!

Think about the experience of enjoying time with family, friends, and other loved ones, rather than just the food.

Choose the foods you genuinely enjoy.

–Tip provided by Chef Kris Dovbniak

Hear Kris's full episode on The Joy-Filled Eater Podcast HERE.

Tip #11: “Plan ahead for your meals with your dietitian or treatment team. Then have an idea of a trusted person you can seek support from.”

Spend some time before your big holiday events to do things like practice portioning your meals, challenging fear foods, and actively reaching out for support.

Although it’s impossible to anticipate and plan for everything that might come up, it’s important to have a general idea of what’s going to be served and how you can build your plate in a way that’s still going to meet your basic nutritional needs.

And secure a support person who you can speak with prior to your holiday events, so that person can know and be aware of when you need support, and how to provide that support in an effective way for you.

–Tip provided by Calvin Burns, LPC

Tip #12: “Fully surrender to God and how He made our bodies through being aware of what it is communicating with us, and honoring its needs. Ask God what your next step is, and what may be holding you in bondage.”

Do you find yourself going to one extreme or another when attempting to battle disordered thought patterns and behaviors?

This might look like trying to completely avoid certain foods, or becoming highly rigid in the way you’re monitoring everything you eat.  

On the other hand, maybe you have a tendency to say, “To heck with it!”, and end up eating more than what actually feels comfortable for your body.

Setting unrealistic goals only sets us up for rebound, rebellion, and apathy.

Ask the Lord to reveal what might be keeping you in bondage, and to guide your next steps.

–Tip provided by Dana Schaub, Certified IE counselor

Tip #13: “Remember that the holiday cannot make you and cannot break you. Neither way will fulfill you. Only the Lord can do that.”

Do you go into the holidays with a ton of anticipation – maybe thinking you’re going to “be good” and “stick to the plan”?  Then you’re left feeling left out afterwards and end up rebound bingeing because you’re feeling deprived?

The holidays cannot fulfill us, but they can’t break us either.

Give yourself grace. The Lord is there with you throughout the holiday season, and he’ll continue to be there afterwards.

–Tip provided by RaeAnne Porte

Tip #14: “Implement at least 1 body checking reduction strategy to help you focus less on your body and more on the life-giving events of the season.”

The less time and attention you spend on thinking about or obsessing over your body, the more you can actually enjoy what the Christmas season is really all about.

To help you do that, here’s 1 strategy you can start implementing today. It’s called Beat The Clock 🕰️.

Begin by determining how long you spend on a particular body ritual.  Then estimate how much you think you could reasonably reduce that time by. (Example: Reducing time spent on makeup from 30 min. to 20.)  

Set an alarm or timer with the new goal time and seek to beat the clock by finishing your ritual before time runs out.  Use the extra time you would have spent (10 min. in the above example) to do something FUN that benefits your recovery.

If you want to learn more practical strategies for improving your body image, you can snag my Body Image Cheat Sheet linked below. 

The Body Image Cheat Sheet is one of our students' favorite resources that walks you through...

  • The 4 types of body image
  • Tools to improve the way you think about and treat your body
  • Scripture to pray over your body image journey
  • Practical strategies for reducing obsessive body checking behaviors
  • AND a BONUS activity to help you create vision and start making peace with your body so that you can finally move forward on your body image journey with intentionality

And when you use code CHRISTMAS10, you can save an extra $10 off AND be automatically gifted a training from me on body image that’ll show you how to use your Cheat Sheet to spend less time focused on your body and more time enjoying the holiday season.

Use code CHRISTMAS10 to save $10 on The Body Image Cheat Sheet until December 24, 2023.

–Tip provided by Brittany Braswell, MS, RDN, LD & host of The Joy-Filled Eater Podcast

Loved these tips and want to get your food freedom momentum going? Here’s your next step ⬇️:

Grab your BONUS episode guide, 14 Tips for Navigating Food Freedom & Body Image During the Holidays!

To learn more from each incredible podcast guest about what it looks like to achieve and sustain freedom from negative body image and an anxiety-ridden relationship with food, be sure to download our FREE episode guide so you can continue your food freedom journey throughout the coming year!

Click HERE to download 14 Tips for Navigating Food Freedom & Body Image During the Holidays.

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