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Love yourself: Surviving the holidays guilt-free

It was the day after Thanksgiving, 2013. I had just eaten a big turkey dinner, and my food baby was there to prove it. I was headed back up to school in San Luis Obispo, where I stopped at the mall for some early holiday shopping. I needed a holiday dress!

Walking into Urban Outfitters was like a kid walking into a candy store, a very expensive candy store with candy wrappers that could only fit the most petite of candies. Why was I doing this to myself again? It wouldn’t be good for my already light wallet or my low self-esteem. I knew as I walked into Urban Outfitters, I would walk out with no money and no self-confidence. The sizes of the clothes were too small, and even if something did fit, it was only designed to look good on a size zero model.

But I went in anyway. I was determined to find a dress for the holidays that was cute and fitting. The first dress I saw as I walked in was loosely worn buy the mannequin; so loose, in fact, that clips were used in the back to tighten the dress. “Why not get a bigger mannequin?” I wondered.

The dress, however, was an adorable plaid, knee-length dress with a black collar. It would go perfectly with nylons and a pair of black boots. I reached for a dress in my size (not knowing which size I was, I grabbed multiple). As I went into the dressing room, I decided to be easy on myself. Not to get mad at myself if the dress didn’t fit the way I wanted to. I promised not to put down my body if I didn’t look like a twig wearing a cute plaid dress.

As I put it on, not looking at the size, I was pleasantly surprised. Not because I looked like an emaciated model, but rather, the opposite. I was pleasantly curvy, and the dress showed it. It hugged my curves, giving my body a Monroe-esque feel. I felt sexy. With some red lipstick and cute heels, this would be the perfect holiday dress. A year ago, this would not have been my mindset. As a woman recovering from an eating disorder, I have always had a problem with my curvy body. Holiday eating has always been an issue for me, and I know I’m not the only one out there who feels this way.

This year was going to be different, however. This holiday season, instead of seeing my body as “too big” or “not thin enough,” I was going to see it as “feminine” and “voluptuous.” This holiday season is going to be different. I refuse to let holiday cookies scream at me, at first forcing me to eat them and then after yelling at me to feel guilty. This year, Puppy-Chow mix and fudge are the least of my worries — and not because I am going to avoid them. No, not this year.

This year, I am going to enjoy them. Yes, that’s right! Enjoy cookies without the feeling of guilt hanging over my head. “But how?!” you ask.

When you’re enjoying holiday treats, you should be mindful to what you really want without guilt, according to dietitian Laura Adams, who is a nutritionist at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

“If you feel like you are doing something wrong when you are eating a treat, it will only lead you to want more,” she said.

The feeling of guilt while eating a holiday treat will only cause you to go into that “all or nothing” mindset, which will only cause a binge.

“While tasting the treats,” she explains, “don’t do it with hunger. Use nutrition for hunger and treats for tasting.”

If you are starving around holiday goodies, you will end up eating more.

“Events like that are OK every once in a while,” she said. “When it becomes a pattern, that’s when it’s a problem.”

We shouldn’t worry about gaining weight over the holidays. It is perfectly natural to gain a little bit of winter weight. Adams explains, “The weight people can pick up in holiday time is just a change in lifestyle. (People) hike less, surf less, paddle board less and eat more food that is comforting, but naturally change this in spring and summer. People get tired of holiday food, and at the end of January, you see that people have gone back to their regular weight.”

So as girls, we need to relax! Gaining five pounds in the winter isn’t such a bad thing, it’s natural.

“We eat treats throughout the year — just more so in the winter,” explains Adams. Instead of trying to diet or feeling guilty about all of the frosted cookies we eat, we should just enjoy — both the holidays and our bodies.

This post was contributed by Rachel Hughes, a sophomore journalism major.

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