Honest Thoughts Blog

Eating Leftover Holiday Food

Hey everyone, Merry Christmas!

holiday eating

Has this ever happened to you? There’s a holiday celebration which immediately means food and lots of it. Of course it’s all your favorites too. At the end of the day, if you were the party host you are left with tons of leftovers you are either trying to push others to take home with them or cramming it in every square inch of your fridge that is left. OR if you were the party guest you are taking home more food than you brought or need, and spent several minutes trying to figure out how to get out of bringing any food home with you.

I’ve been in both scenarios several times in my life. For awhile it was a really stressful place for me with a lot of internal conflict. When I was heavily into very restrictive eating and low body image, holidays were fun but came with a lot guilt, shame, stress, and frustration at the end of the day. Many times I felt like I wasn’t being restrictive because I was letting myself eat what I wanted on that day, but really it was just a trick. I was gorging that day because it was “my only day” and I felt like I could not fit those foods into my diet on any other day. As much as I wanted to take home some of those leftovers I would try to avoid it as much as possible because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to eat them without feeling like I was messing up my diet and I had no idea of the calories that were in those foods. I’m so sorry if this is how you feel. I understand that feeling and you are not alone. Let me tell you though, it doesn’t have to be this way. So today I am writing to you briefly to give some ideas of how to handle holiday leftovers.

REMEMBER THAT ALL FOODS FIT- all foods fit is an easy saying to remember, but kind of a tricky concept to follow. What happens a lot of the times is that we think we let all foods fit BUT only if it’s on  certain days or certain times. If we eat these foods that don’t fit our diet bill we feel really bad about it. This is not really all foods fit. When you really let all foods fit, rules like when you can eat without feeling bad go away.

FREEZE THE LEFTOVERS- I think this tip is great for when you really really hate to throw food out, but just cannot eat it all in a timely manner. Sometimes I remembered feeling so conflicted because I just couldn’t throw away a food. I hated that I was wasting, but I knew I would feel terrible if I were to eat the amount of leftover food I had before it went bad. Freezing leftovers is a great way to prevent the waste but also to prevent overstuffing yourself just because it needs to be eaten.

LEARN  TO SAY NO- For some I know this is harder than it is for others. If you don’t want to food for whatever reason just say no in a polite and sure way. I know some can take offense when you turn down the food they offer, but you can explain that you do not want food today. On the other side of this, whenever you are the host try to remember this as well and don’t be offended when others don’t want to take home extra food.

CREATE BALANCE- Getting to this point can take some time, so don’t fret too much if this is difficult for you. Whether you are really restricting your eating or not, finding balance just helps you feel better. Have you ever had several days where you normal eating patterns were just completely thrown off and it makes you feel, bleh? With this time of year it is quite easy for your normal eating routine to be completely thrown off. Finding a balance between these foods you don’t normally eat and the ones you do creates the best of both worlds. Typically, we will feel best when our meals include carbohydrate, protein, fat, and veggies. What I suggest is eating one of your holiday leftover favorites with a mixture of your normal foods to create that balance. Example- leftover broccoli rice and cheese casserole could be a great carb choice to serve along with some grilled chicken, and green beans.

EAT OR TAKE ONLY WANT YOU REALLY WANT- I usually refer to this as eating out of obligation. I understand that sometimes you need to eat a plate that you don’t like or eat some even when  you aren’t hungry as a way to polite, but I think many times we eat way passed full just because many of us have been taught to eat that way. It’s important to listen to hunger and fullness cues. Maybe this means you skip over a side dish that never really satisfies, take home leftover of only 1 or 2 foods instead of all of them, stop eating what is on your plate if you realize it isn’t as good as you wanted or when you are satisfyingly full.

REMEMBER YOU CAN EAT THESE FOODS AGAIN- I know there are exceptions to this, but generally the foods you are eating for a holiday meal will be available to eat again. If you can stop overly restricting your diet, it gives you even more room for eating them again. In years past, I would eat a whole bunch of some of my favorite foods on the holidays because I knew starting the next day I wasn’t going to have them for a long time. Now that I’ve accepted that I can have all foods it is much easier to eat the foods I want for that meal in the portion sizes that satisfy me and go on about my day. If I feel full, but feel like I want more, I remind myself that I can take the leftovers to eat at a later time when I am hungry again.

That’s all for today. This post was powered by a lunch of my favorite Christmas dinner sides from my parents house. 🙂 Now I’m going to enjoy my day off work snuggling my toddler who is napping on my chest as I write this.

Remember, you are worth so much more than the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the number on the scale, or the size of your jeans. My Jesus came to this Earth with love, grace, and mercy to save us all. ❤

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9


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