If you’ve been following my social media for the past few weeks, you’ll probably know that I have been sharing quotes from The Ultimate Guide to Guilt Free Holiday Eating, a collection of advice from over 30 non-diet dietitians and therapists, curated by Christin Morgan, RD.
As I read through the quotes, I noticed there were a few common themes that kept showing up. These, to me, are the best gifts that you can receive this holiday season, but you can’t put them on your wishlist! They’re all items that only you can give to yourself.
3 Gift Ideas that Money Can’t Buy
In The Intuitive Eating Workbook,(Amazon affiliate link) dietitians, co-authors and Intuitive Eating creators Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch write, “If there were an eleventh principle of Intuitive Eating, it would be self-care”, arguing that if you are not getting your basic needs met, it makes it difficult to hear and respond to your body’s needs.
What exactly is self-care? Is it bubble baths and pedicures? Making time for yourself? Tribole and Resch define it as, “the daily process of attending to your basic physical and emotional needs”, while narrative therapist and self-care coach Tiffany Sostar expands this definition further, including “any choice […] that honours your needs”
The concept of self-care is super-trendy right now, but things like hygge and goop have created this image that it needs to be this all-encompassing lifestyle (that is only accessible to thin, white, wealthy cis-gendered women), when even meeting basic needs like breathing, eating (something is better than nothing), clothing and shelter are all part of self-care.
Self care can be bubble baths, pedicures and making time for yourself. But, if you’re feeling stressed or burnt out by everything coming at you during the holiday season/year-end, perhaps it can be helpful to consider, What is one thing I can do that will honour one of my needs right now?
Yes, sometimes the answer will feel like work. Sometimes, despite the fact that it’s called “self-care”, we need others in order to honour our needs. Start small. You’ve got this.What is one thing I can do that will honour one of my needs right now? #selfcare Click To Tweet
In The Self Compassion Skills Workbook (Amazon affiliate link), author Tim Desmond defines self compassion as “celebrating and enjoying yourself when life is going well, as well as being kind and forgiving toward yourself when life is hard.” While many are comfortable with the former—though I recognize that some people also have feelings of “I don’t deserve this” or imposter syndrome when things are going well—most of us trip up with the latter.
We live in a society that values productivity, being “right”, doing more, having more. We’re told to “be good for Santa” from a young age, and as adults, we worry about buying the “best” presents, being a good host, having nice decorations, and so on. It’s no wonder that this time of year can often bring on stress, anxiety and feeling “not enough”.
We’re also taught that we need to be “strict” and disciplined in order to get what we want. I used to think, “If I don’t push myself, who will?” We tell ourselves that we can’t have treats in the house, or that we must freeze or give away our Christmas baking. We chastise ourselves for lack of willpower when we eat or do something “bad”.
Desmond argues, “Motivating ourselves with criticism is all about making ourselves fear failure, which often results in our avoiding challenges that might result in failure. We shrink from our setbacks and challenges because we’re afraid of our inner critic. […] In fact, there is substantial research that shows people with high levels of self-compassion can achieve more because they are better able to persevere through difficulties.”
Often people say that they are their own worst critic. Most of us probably wouldn’t say the things that we say to ourselves to anyone else. If you struggle with showing yourself kindness during stressful times, or when you make mistakes, imagine you are speaking to a friend, loved one, or even a younger version of yourself. Would you criticize yourself in the same way? How might you react differently?Do you speak to yourself the same way you would speak to a friend or loved one? #selfcompassion Click To Tweet
Through my training and work as a certified intuitive eating counselor, I have now come to realize that perhaps one of the biggest struggles that many people have—and often don’t realize—is the lack of trust that they have in themselves.
I cringe when people tell me to give them a meal plan, or ask me to “tell them what to eat”. I get it – having a done-for-you meal plan (or better yet, made-for-you meals) means it’s one less thing that you have to worry about, and there may be the added comfort that it’s “based on the latest evidence”. It also doesn’t help that there are many bodily ailments that we can’t necessarily see or feel until the condition is in its advanced stages.
Still, although I may be a “nutrition expert”, you are the expert of you. You know your body best; you know your life best. We live in a world that’s very “noisy”—we’re taught to follow external guidelines and meal plans that often override our natural cues, to the point where many of us have lost touch with them.
Perhaps instead of trying to find yet another thing to follow, and layering in even more noise, what would happen if you tuned in? How can you learn to trust your body?What would happen if you tuned in to your body's needs? How can you learn to trust it again? Click To Tweet
You Are Not Alone
While ultimately these are gifts that only you can truly give yourself, you don’t have to do it alone. All the books and eBooks that I’ve linked to above are great resources to get started. If you’re ready for a deeper dive, we can work together to help you figure out how to build self-care, self-compassion and trust into your life.