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With Christmas nearly here and New Year’s parties right after that, the rest of the year is sure to be filled with food and alcohol festivities. And, if you’ve struggled with food, weight, or body issues, this time of year can cause quite a bit of anxiety and stress. Especially when you add family, old friends, traveling, and other holiday pressures to the mix.

There’s no need to fret, though. There’s still time to get a holiday eating strategy in place, so you can celebrate the holidays feeling light, vibrant, happy, and well in your body. And avoid any shame or guilt you might have experienced in years past. Here are three easy steps to enjoying all the year-end food traditions.

  1. Set Your Intention

Even if you’ve already had a few more indulgences than expected, you can still set an intention. As the cliché goes, better late than never.

holiday eatingWhether you intend to enjoy the holiday spirit free of any food worries, maintain your current weight into the New Year, or just get through the holiday season without any guilt about food or weight, or something else entirely, begin now thinking about your goal.

How do you want to feel these next couple weeks? How do you want to show up in the world? What’s important to you and how can you balance that with other obligations?

Set your intention and write it down.

  1. Make a Plan 

Now that you know what you want, it’s time to get concrete to ensure success. How will you make it happen?

Develop a plan before Christmas (Eve) dinner, before your next holiday party, before holiday leftovers make their way into your fridge, before the alcohol starts flowing.

Here are a few ideas: commit to only one piece/bite of dessert; remember to check into your body, feelings, and hunger level; position yourself away from the food table; keep tea handy for a mindful moment before snacking or temptations appear; decide whether you’re going to drink alcohol or eat sweets (drinking + sugar make for hefty indulgences and a mean hangover); refuse to take home leftovers; strengthen your self-compassion and self-forgiveness muscle…

Get creative.

What will help you be successful?

Write down everything. Writing reinforces the commitment in your brain and body. And if you’re willing to show it to someone, the external accountability can be helpful, as well.

  1. Visualize Success  

Don’t worry, this isn’t that woo-woo. In fact, the most successful athletes visualize their performance 100%. And you can too!

Christmas (Eve) morning, before you even get out of bed, visualize yourself following your plan just as you designed. One bite of dessert to feel perfectly satisfied. Enjoying the company, feeling good in your body, not worried about the food equals a win.

Then again, right before you arrive or the food is brought out, take a couple of moments to check in, breathe slowly and deeply, and visualize yourself following through with your plan. See the event going smoothly: you having a wonderful time, eating to a comfortable level, savoring every bite, putting the fork down when you’re done, and saying no to another round.

Or, embrace the pleasure of the moment, forgive yourself, and release all guilt.

Visualize your success the morning of, and before any event, party, gathering, or potentially stressful situation. It’ll be much easier to follow through with your plan, you’ll be happier for it, and your belly will love you more.

Here’s a bonus tip to help you be successful and feel good with the choices you make: find some downtime–just for you–these next few weeks. It may just give you the extra edge to fully enjoy the holiday season. And, whenever possible, get enough sleep and avoid snacking.

Let this holiday season be one you that fills you with joy, pleasure, and gratitude (instead of food). You can step into feeling good in your body, safe and comfortable around food, and empowered to be successful.

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