By Madelin Skinner
Madelin grew up in Santa Rosa, California and currently is a fourth year nutrition student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She will be graduating in spring of 2022, where she plans on completing a dietetic internship post grad and then aspires to become a registered dietitian. Her future goals include being able to open up her own practice one day with an emphasis on women’s health. Madelin wants to be a strong support system for her clients and wants everyone to be able to have a healthy relationship with food and their body. When Madelin is not studying, she loves learning about wine, taking neighborhood strolls, and making dinner for her friends and family.
The holiday season is a time for so many of us to sit by the fire and enjoy time with our loved ones. This season also includes celebratory dinners and tasty treats. For those who struggle with eating disorders, the holiday season and foods associated with it can bring feelings of anxiety, depression, and more. One important thing to remember about the holiday season is not to feel guilty for letting yourself enjoy food. Don’t deprive yourself days before or days after for letting yourself indulge. You still need to properly fuel yourself the day before eating a holiday feast. Your body deserves food.
On any other day of the year, a meal with a source of protein, carbs, fats, and vegetables is considered to be healthy and balanced. Many American Christmas dinners typically consist of turkey, ham, or another protein, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and perhaps a few other sides. Why does diet culture lead us to believe that Christmas dinner is considered unhealthy, when it’s full of nourishing foods our bodies love!
One russet potato contains 25% of your daily potassium, 35% of your vitamin C, as well as some iron, protein and fiber! Vitamin C helps with iron absorption. Fiber helps regulate your digestive system and hunger cues. Protein is an essential nutrient necessary for many metabolic processes in our body.
Butter is a fat, a nutrient our bodies need! Butter is found in so many holiday dishes and should not be feared! It actually is a good source of vitamin A and E. Oils are another source of fat and should also not be avoided. Some nutrients (many found in vegetables) are fat-soluble, meaning they need fat in order to be absorbed. Fat is also a source of energy in the body and helps regulate our hormones.
Chocolate might be another food you see on the Christmas table. A study in 2014 found that women who ate chocolate cake with celebration had more successful weight management compared to those who associated chocolate cake with feelings of guilt. Those feelings of guilt led to unhealthy eating behaviors, greater body image dissatisfaction, and reduced quality of life. It’s actually beneficial for your health to enjoy foods. Dark chocolate has some great nutritional benefits too, like powerful antioxidants, increases heart health, balances the immune system, and reduces stress.
If portion size is something that you struggle with, that’s okay. Listen to your body and eat what feels good to you. If something is tasting amazing, don’t be afraid to get seconds or even thirds! One day is not going to make-or-break you.
Allow yourself to enjoy these traditional meals and make memories. The memories made around this time of year are so special and are hopefully going to be cherished forever. By restricting yourself from enjoying the foods your loved one’s made, you might one day look back and wonder why you didn’t let yourself relax. You wouldn’t want to miss out on eating your favorite childhood dish or your Grandma’s famous cookies.
Show yourself some love and allow yourself to share these moments with the ones you love. Allow yourself to enjoy all of the delicious holiday spread in front of you and don’t feel ashamed. Try to remove feelings of regret and take time for yourself to breathe, meditate, and focus on your thoughts. Allow yourself to have some grace and compassion as everything will be okay. Reach out to someone if you are needing some support during the holidays. The Dietitians at Not Your Average Nutritionist are able to support you if you are struggling during this time of year.