This is Why You Don't Need to Compensate After the Holidays

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Your holiday may not have gone as planned. Maybe you indulged more than you intended or ate those forbidden foods you swore you would never eat. Maybe you’re feeling angry at yourself for how much you ate over the holidays or regretful about your food choices.

These types of experiences often trigger a need to compensate, or in other terms, “make right” the things you felt like you did wrong. This might translate into jumping on the dieting bandwagon, restricting your intake in some way, or forcing yourself to work out at the gym until you burn so many calories.

The truth is, you wouldn’t be alone in doing this. Studies have repeatedly found that weight loss is among the top New Year’s resolution made every year. In fact, many people will go into the holiday season with the mindset that they can “let loose” and do whatever they want, as long as they can hit the reset button come January 1st.  

What are the dangers of this mindset?

First, it’s important to understand that food was never a moralistic issue to begin with. You are not suddenly a bad person for eating Christmas treats or even overeating at a holiday meal. Dieting seems like the perfect solution for removing the guilt of eating pleasurable food.

But ultimately, there is nothing that needs to be corrected. You are a human being that deserves and needs to eat. Trying to compensate for how you ate is putting undue blame where none should exist.

The Dangers of Dieting

If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or out of control from your holiday eating experiences, remember that dieting is not the solution. It may feel like having a specific plan to follow, cutting out certain foods, or restricting yourself from eating certain foods will somehow change these feels - but this is not the case.

Understand that your body is not the problem, and putting yourself through damaging behaviors, like dieting or over-exercising, will negatively affect your physical and emotional well-being. The pursuit of weight loss or dieting is not a solution for thriving and enjoying your life. It never has been, nor will it be.

Living in a culture of body shaming and dieting, it has sadly become commonplace to feel hatred and disdain for your own body. If you have found yourself in this situation, or the holidays felt like a chaotic and triggering time, remember this: Your body is your home for the rest of your life; it is deserving of respect, dignity, and kindness. By choosing to meet your most basic needs, including adequate and consistent nutrition.

Heading into the New Year, remember that your body deserves to be treated with self-care and joy, not self-criticism and misery. No matter what you have experienced this holiday season, make a commitment to focus your time, energy, and efforts on life goals that will truly help you thrive.