By Beckie Stauffer, MA, RD, LPCC
In westernized American culture, you can hardly make mention of the holidays without talking about food. There’s Halloween candy, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas cookies, and New Year’s champagne. Food is culture. It’s how we celebrate, commemorate, and elevate seasons, events, and life. Food brings sparkle, oomph, and pop.
And yet, food is not just culture. It’s health and weight and image. It’s one way that we measure vitality and discipline and worth. So, needless to say, the holidays are a very conflicting time of the year for our minds and our bodies. We experience both a sincere longing to engage in the festive fun, and a wildly shameful aftermath for “giving in.”
Most people land in this double bind at least once between October and January and from my work with clients, many people believe that their routine encounter with disappointment is reserved to just them and their experience. This, this moment, is where your story comes in, gets activated.
If you have never considered how food and your body and your story are interwoven, the invitation is to pause and do so now.
Anne Lamott writes, “If you have a body, you are entitled to the full range of feelings. It comes with the package.”
Here are a handful of scenarios that demonstrate how your deeper story may be at play this holiday season:
You feel both elation and self-loathing when you have a second helping at Christmas dinner.
You make vows like “no more carbs” or “more time on the treadmill” when your holiday party dress is snug.
Your reason for eating another Christmas cookie is because, “I already had two”.
You can’t look at yourself in the mirror without having hurtful thoughts.
You don’t like looking in the mirror, period.
You feel highly anxious when you see the dinner buffet.
You numb out and just keep eating.
Or, your numb out and do not eat at all.
At Restoration Counseling, we believe that every part of your story matters and every piece of your narrative has the capacity to empower or imprison you. We are aware that food is substance, culture, and nourishment- and it can also be the trigger to a trap.
Do you remember the first time you had that thought?
Can you recall how your childhood was shaped by food?
Is there a moment in adolescence you felt shame around your body? Your femininity or masculinity?
As you circle around the potluck, the Christmas tree, or the gym track this Christmas, we invite you to pause, breath, and sink into your body. Let yourself feel what it is like to occupy your flesh, to connect with your matter, and to acknowledge the thoughts that come to your mind.
And then we invite you to be kind to yourself. To forgive yourself. To love yourself. And to begin to restory those narratives.