The Truth about “Guilt Free” Holidays

Dearest Holiday Hopefuls,

I’m writing to you from a crowded coffee shop in Arlington, Virginia. I’m sitting across from my strikingly handsome boyfriend whose nose is buried, rather literally, in a book filled with words far beyond my nutrition-brained realm of understanding.

Me and Mr. IT Security
Me & Mr. IT Security

All I know are three things:

  1. He’s studying for a yet another certification in his field of IT security–and yes, I’ve thoroughly exhausted the, “but I don’t get IT!!!” joke…
  2. The holiday season is now in FULL swing.
  3. It’s really loud in here.

A few moments ago, I thought #3 was going to be the downfall of my blog-writing abilities. 

“How am I going to write a groundbreaking post about holiday food guilt if I can’t even hear my own self think?!”

But then…POOF! An idea! Maybe she’s born with it…maybe it’s coffee? Either way…

The holiday voice

I started to realize that the distracting, ever-present noise in this coffee shop is a lot like the unrelenting noise that may be in your head each and every holiday season.

The voice that says….

  • “If you eat that, you’ll ruin your progress.”
  • “If you don’t have better willpower, you’ll gain weight & continue to hate the shape you see in the mirror.”
  • “I’ll feel guilty if I eat that and don’t track it.”
  • “I ate soo much ‘unhealthy’ food yesterday, so I have to get up early tomorrow & burn those extra calories!!”

…and SO much more.

Odds are, you’ve heard this voice before–at least to some extent. Honestly, I think we’ve all heard it.

And…I think we can all agree that the worst part about the holiday season isn’t being surrounded by yummy food and people we love, but rather, it’s the fact that we won’t let ourselves truly enjoy it.

We won’t let ourselves enjoy it for fear of “falling off track,” “feeling guilty,” “gaining weight,” or “feeling fat.” (All things I’ve heard before…not things I’m making up)

If this internal “noise” is something you experience, I want you to know that you’re not alone…and these thoughts aren’t your fault. These thoughts are a reflection of the types of messaging around food and health that you have in your life.

How can you have guilt free holidays?

Here is where this post shifts into something different than what everyone else will tell you about this time of year. They’re saying things like,  “Enjoy what you want and don’t feel guilty!” and “Spend time with your family and don’t stress about food!”–which is cool and totally valid…but exactly how does one do that?

Of course, I want those statements to be a reality for you this holiday season. However, I know that the solutions to feelings of guilt and stress surrounding food aren’t that quick or simple.

These things take time, and telling yourself to simply “not feel guilty” is neither an effective nor a lasting solution–because here’s the thing…

If the habits you practice on a daily basis induce food guilt, fear, or shame, these habits can’t be reversed (no matter how bad you may want them to be reversed) in order for you to enjoy a singular holiday. Your brain does not work that way.

If I taught you yoga every single day, odds are that over time, the practice of yoga would become second nature to you. Awesome! But what if one day, you came to yoga and I told you, “Today, you’re going to run a marathon instead…without any training! AND you’re going to finish first!”… 

You’d probably look at me like I was crazy (rightfully so).

Food habits and behaviors

Sweet potato and pumpkin spread
Recipe linked below!

The same thing applies to food behaviors. You can’t train certain food habits all year long and then expect everything to go smoothly when you drastically change course for a day. 

If you truly want a free, joyful relationship with food, you have to train those habits–every. single. day.

So, even though I’d like to tell you to not feel guilty this holiday season, I also want to be realistic with you. Leaving guilt behind is really hard if your daily food beliefs, behaviors, and habits don’t reflect that goal.

I want you to feel free of food guilt not just for the holidays…but for LIFE. Food is not meant to control your life and make you feel restricted, guilted, or shamed. Food is meant to help you become the best, most confident version of yourself.

This holiday season, be gentle with yourself. You can’t expect habits to change overnight, and that’s okay.

My action item for you:

Use this holiday season to build awareness about what food and health habits you may need to change and/or continue to work on.

If you feel guilty or controlled by food during this time of year, that’s a good indication that it may be time to search for a new and improved relationship with food. If you feel a constant urge to eat to a point of physical discomfort or overindulge on those “treats” you usually exclude from your diet, that may be a sign that your eating habits are too restrictive to truly enjoy or sustain for a lifetime.

Awareness always precedes change–and as we all know, meaningful change takes thought, time, and hard work. So build your awareness and reflect on how you need to change to become the best version of yourself–before January 1st even rolls around! 

Then, take action. Surround yourself with messages that reflect and encourage true food freedom–not freedom associated with a singular holiday.

Here are a few of my favorite resources to get you started in the right direction:

  • Book: Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD
  • The Yours Chewly Podcast (shameless self-plug)
    • On iTunes, Spotify & Soundcloud. Episode 19 covers this exact topic in depth.
  • My Free, Private Facebook Community
    • Daily posts & videos on topics related to Gentle Nutrition, freedom of movement & positive mindset–plus, support from other people on the same journey! Click here & request to join 🙂
  • Gentle Nutrition Coaching with Yours Chewly
    • A personalized road map for lasting success in health & your relationship with food. Click here to apply.

But most importantly–find gratitude, always. Have a happy and safe holiday season!

Yours Chewly,




P.S. If you’re looking for a delicious recipe to add to your holiday repertoire, check out this Roasted Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Spread! 

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