As the holiday season approaches, so does the tantalizing spread of festive feasts that could make even the most disciplined among us want to indulge. Yet, for many millennial moms, this period is fraught with an unwelcome guest: food guilt. It’s that nagging feeling that nibbling on your grandma’s famous gingerbread cookies or savoring the rich, holiday gravy is somehow a misstep. But where does this guilt originate, and why is it so pervasive among modern women? Let’s unwrap the concept of food guilt, understand its roots, and find ways to joyfully embrace the holiday spirit and the deliciousness it brings.
What is Food Guilt?
- The Inner Conflict: Food guilt is the emotional experience that follows perceived overindulgence, often characterized by a sense of regret or failure around food choices.
- Societal Pressures: It’s exacerbated by societal pressures to adhere to certain body standards, the constant bombardment of diet culture in media, and sometimes, the well-intentioned but harmful comments from those around us.
But where did our individual food guilt come from? We were not born thinking ice cream was bad. We grew up thinking it was delicious and made us happy. At some point though, things like cookies and pies became “bad foods.” Some of this is from the media and even brand names like “lesser evil” and “guilt free” labeling. But most of this came from our household, often our mom’s and our mom’s mom (aka grandma).
The Almond Mom Phenomenon:
- Definition: The term “almond mom” has gained traction online, referring to moms who obsessively count calories and model restrictive eating behaviors, often projecting these onto their children.
- The Ripple Effect: These attitudes can inadvertently be passed down, creating a generational cycle of food-related stress and guilt, particularly among daughters.
First, let me say that I LOVE my mom. We have a great relationship. She (along with my dad) gave me the best childhood and raised me to be a good person (at least I think). That being said, my grandmother weighed herself every single day and was neurotic about not gaining weight. This thin ideal was passed down to my mom. She was a lifetime weight watchers member and as a result, I was aware of fiber and points. I knew baking vs frying breaded chicken was lower calorie. We bought Snackwells as healthy snacks. Ice cream was “bad.” I took an interest in wellness because of my mom! I found it fascinating. Wanna lose weight? Eat less calories was what we all thought back then.
This wasn’t my mom’s fault but the fact that I was raised by someone whose mom prioritized thinness ingrained in my head that if we ate too many calories, we were being bad. As a result, it was impossible to avoid hearing people say things like “I was bad, I had two cookies.”
Again, I don’t blame my mom. If I grew up in a time that she did, I probably would’ve behaved the same way.
But I’ll save the rest for a book one day, let’s move on…
Food guilt during the holidays is like Arnold on steroids. Something that was once there becomes much more intense.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone through the holidays searching for the perfect healthy recipe to bring/make to only beat yourself up for over indulging at the dessert table?
Raise your hand if you binged during a Holiday because it was the only day you had a “free pass” and then felt awful and punished yourself the following day with extreme exercise? I see you Black Friday redemption workouts.
If this has happened to you in the past, maybe you have anxiety knowing you’re bound to feel defeated at some point over the next 2 months.
Here’s how the holiday struggles manifest:
- Amplified Anxiety: Holiday gatherings, with their focus on meals and treats, can heighten this anxiety, leading to a dampened festive spirit and enjoyment.
- Excessive Exercise: Often after overindulging, we may feel the need to “burn off” the calories through extreme forms of exercise that can actually be worse for us if our hormones are not balanced. In addition, this behavior can lead to the next binging episode without proper recovery measures.
- Low self esteem: Time to dress up? We may struggle to find something we feel confident wearing if we are struggling with our current bodies. As a result, we may throw in the towel all together and say, what’s the point and go off the rails leading to even less self esteem.
- Difficulty Navigating Conversations: We may face comments or judgment from family members (sometimes the “almond moms” themselves) about ourselves or even our children’s eating habits during these times.
With my clients, we talk a lot about strategy during the week and the holiday season is no different. Here are some strategies to overcome food guilt during the holidays once and for all.
Overcoming Food Guilt for the Holiday Season:
- Embrace Mindfulness: Tune into your body’s hunger cues and savor each bite. Mindful eating can enhance enjoyment and reduce overeating without the need for guilt.
- Redefine Traditions: Create holiday traditions that focus on togetherness and joy rather than food being the centerpiece.
- Set Boundaries: Politely but firmly set boundaries with family members who may comment on eating habits or body sizes.
- Educate and Empower: Use these experiences as teachable moments for your children about the importance of balance and a healthy relationship with food.
While these may work for some people, I like concrete actionable items myself and that’s why I’m hosting the Thriving, not just surviving through the Holidays Masterclass once again this year! It was so popular, I thought I’d bring it back.
Tuning into your hunger cues is hard for a lot of us! Due to hormone disruptors many of us have forgotten what it truly feels like to be hungry OR full. We eat because it’s dinner time or we are offered something that looks delicious or we mindlessly snack for comfort. In this masterclass, we will dive into:
- How to balance hormones
- Learn how much food you actually need (to maintain and lose weight)
- Strategies to stop feeling guilty over what you eat
- How to navigate holiday party food and drinks to feel like the rockstar you are
and more… Reserve your spot here today! Can’t make it live? A replay will be sent out but prices will be awarded to those who join live!
This holiday season, let’s gift ourselves and our families the freedom from food guilt. As millennial moms, we have the power to break cycles, build new traditions, and create a nurturing environment where the joy of eating is celebrated. Food is not just sustenance; it’s a part of our culture, our family bonding, and our holiday cheer. So, let’s raise our glasses (of eggnog or almond milk, if you please) to a season filled with love, laughter, and the blissful enjoyment of holiday treats, guilt-free!