Unfortunately, one of the things that sets the stage for shame is holiday eating. Often, there’s a feeling of having been really “bad” or over-indulgent with food choices. That can quickly turn into an inner-critic frenzy, with headlines such as:

“You’re a disgusting pig.”

“Did you really need that last cookie?”

“You’re out of control, lady!”… to name a few.

Hmm. Seems to me that if that’s what is ending up in your head, you’re not only not enjoying your food, but you feel like you’re shameful failure. Whoa. Back up.

Eating, and what you eat, should not be a value judgment about who you are.

In my post on humming and beckoning I spoke about the how to really enjoy the specialties of the season. That is SO important, but there may still be times when you feel uneasy about your food choices. That’s ok. You can work with that.

If shame around eating comes up, take that as an opportunity for some self-discovery and ask yourself some questions:

First, what are the facts, the hard cold truth about the situation? Did you enjoy what you ate? Did you choose well? Did you satisfy your hunger?

#1. I didn’t eat enough:

Maybe you ate too little for satisfaction? Say, for example, that you decided to fill up on the raw vegetable platter at the party so you wouldn’t be tempted by the cheese puffs or the stuffed mushrooms. By the time you get home you’re ravenous! When that happens, it can be harder to make a truly satisfying choice. In my own experience, I’ve hit the bottomless bowl of cereal, or end up grazing into the evening. If this is you, ask yourself what you can do differently next time. What would have been a more satisfying way to honor your hunger? Perhaps you could have the vegetables that appeal to you AND some of the other things that are being served that you truly like and will be satisfying to you.

#2. I didn’t make a good choice:

Maybe you ate stuff that was just…meh. You tasted the cake in the office break room and it was just ok. One more bite…Did it really get better? Another bite, just to see if you were missing something. Nope, not that great, but now that I’ve eaten this much, I might as well finish it. Has that ever happened to you? What happened afterwards? Maybe some of that inner-critic frenzy I mentioned above? So now what? Is it useful to keep hating on yourself? I’m going to take a wild guess here and say…no. So ask yourself—What would be a better choice next time?

One idea is to honor your awareness of taste by allowing yourself to stop eating what you are not enjoying. If you need to gracefully discard the food, find a way to do that. There are very few times I can think of when there should be an obligation to keep eating something that you don’t like. There is usually a better and more satisfying choice available.

#3. I over did it:

Maybe you ate to the point of being over-full. It just all looked and smelled and tasted SO good, that you truly wanted to eat it all! Ok, that’s great! But when it’s hard to stop, it can feel icky in the aftermath, and it’s more fuel for the inner critic, and the slippery slope to shame.

A word about fullness:
Think about your experiences of fullness, in relation to eating. Not overstuffed (overfull) fullness. Think about satiety also. You might feel:

•A subtle feeling of stomach fullness

•Feeling satisfied and content

•Nothingness—neither hungry nor full

•What is your experience? Really start to pay attention to your fulness cues.

Some ways to check out your fullness:

Pause in the middle of a snack or meal to assess:

Taste—How does your food taste? Is it worth continuing to eat it, or do you feel obligated to eat it?

Satiety—Ask yourself what your hunger or fullness level is. Still hungry? Hunger going away? Beginning to feel satisfied?

When you finish, ask yourself what your hunger level is. Did you reach comfortable satiety? How does that feel? Did you surpass it? By how much? How does that feel?

Things that can get in the way:

Knowing your last bite threshold

Try: When you feel that you’re at your last bite, take an action of some sort (move your plate, take a deep breath, voice your gratitude, some sort of movement or gesture, etc.).  This can help to make the transition from eating to being finished.


Try Saying:

“Thank you, that looks lovely, but I’ve already eaten.”
“That looks wonderful, I’d love to take some home for later.”
“I’m not hungry quite yet, so I’ll wait a bit.”

I know this can be a challenge!  What else do you think would work?

Portion anxiety

Try: Reminding yourself that you can have this food again.
Practice mindful eating so you can fully enjoy the portion you do have to increase satiety and decrease anxiety.

Clean plate/no waste

Try: Packing it up and saving it for later.
Offer it to someone else who would enjoy it.
Compost it.

I hope the take-away here is that you can make good, satisfying choices this holiday season, and avoid the shame trap. It’s not always easy, and it’s not going to be perfect. That’s a good thing to remind your inner-critic.

For your reflection~

What is one way that you can fully enjoy your most favorite holiday food, guilt-free?

Want more? We’re gearing up for the January launch of my new eCourse! Sign up for my blog and you’ll be the first to get info. on how to register!

Be gentle with yourself, and know that you are loved.