Okay, you made it through the big holiday meal. Now it’s time to use your curiosity and compassion to review how you did. Because this essential dual mindset is one which disregulated eaters sorely lack, engaging in it will help you grow healthier emotionally even if you’re unhappy with how you ate. No matter what happened between you and food on Christmas day, being objective and kind to yourself will teach you new lessons.
So, how’d it go? Take a minute to think about what you did well around food. Generally disregulated eaters focus exclusively on what they did wrong, so I’m asking you to do the opposite: what did you do right? I don’t care how small and insignificant the behavior seems to you. Check it off in your head and congratulate yourself for whatever it was.
Now, specifically, what didn’t go so well? Without judgment, consider, did you…eat too much; do okay during the meal, then wolf down leftovers when you got home; eat too fast and talk while you were eating; go back for seconds, thirds or more when you were full after firsts; get coaxed into eating foods you really didn’t want; eat like a bird during the meal, then stuff down everything in sight during the clean up; starve yourself all day so you were famished by the time you ate the holiday meal; feel so upset with/by the people around you that you took your feelings out on yourself by overeating?
Neutrally observe your behaviors and gently push away feelings of shame, self-contempt, regret, remorse, or a desire to punish yourself. This may take a few minutes as you corral these thoughts and replace them with self-loving ones. We all know that negative chatter can keep badgering you, so just keep that positive self-talk going and decide that you will NOT succumb to negative nonsense. When you are in an internal space of curiosity and compassion, review your eating behavior and consider what you could have done differently. It’s okay to feel a tiny bit of regret or upset that you didn’t eat as you wanted to, but don’t allow yourself to wallow in it.
Problem solve around each food-related behavior you could have done better and come up with concrete suggestions for next year. Make sure your review includes how you felt about and your beliefs prior to the holiday, your emotional state during it, whether you were meeting your needs or someone else’s by engaging in activities. Think about how you want to enjoy the holidays next year and decide right now if you wish to make any major changes. Consider what life skills would have made it easier for you to manage being around friends or family (or alone) and determine that you’ll learn and practice them during the year. Now, put these thoughts aside and go have some fun!