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A Lifetime Relationship with Food and Eating: A Holiday Reflection

Rounding the corner, momentum strong, pumpkin spice thick in the air. You guessed it, the holiday season is nipping at our heels again! 


Along with a good dose of joy, merry, and warmth, this time of year can also conjure up some bigger (and sometimes downright uncomfy) feelings, emotions, and reflections within our mind and body around sticky food rules, harsh and critical self-talk, and shame shame shame for every little move we make (or don’t make). 


Personally, I’ve been feeling the pull to reflect on my food and body journey of holiday time past, my navigation of newer territory around the holidays this year, and some bigger picture food and body relationship realizations for future holidays (and future life in general)! 


Oh yeah, who am I you may be asking? Let me introduce myself! 

Hi there! I’m Marcy :) I’m a current Masters of Science in Nutrition student at Bastyr in San Diego, an ADHD human with a decade of (too much) familiarity with diet culture, a passionate (time-friendly, budget-friendly, tasty-friendly, neurish-friendly) home cook, and a Wise Heart Nutrition Practice Manager that is consistently learning with others like me!


I’m hoping this holiday past/present/future post will shed light on the honest lived experiences of an imperfect nutrition educator (that’s me!), who is ALSO on the life journey of finding continued peace and contentment in her relationship with food and body. Not only for these next few months, but for the long haul. 


So sit back, and take a trip through some holiday headspace in diet culture past… 



You read that right. I was the third grader telling the teachers that I was on a diet, started my first “weigh and pay” program at the ripe age of 15, and wrote (handwritten and signed!!) contracts for myself around eating times, behaviors, and restricted foods. Yeah, diet culture had me on a tight leash from an early age. 


And my running holiday season headspace for years? It sounded a little something like this: 

  • “Marcy, don’t start eating from the candy bowl/plate of cookies/that slice of cake. Once you start you can’t stop.
  • “I want to look ‘good’ for the holidays and for my family! I need to stay disciplined around food!” OR “C’mon, It’s the holidays, I’ll make up for it in the New Year. Go wild!!” 
  • “It’s easy! JUST SAY NO to all food offered to me and celebrate my willpower with other dieters!!”
  • “Oh god, please, no family pictures after I just super overate at dinner and feel awful” 
  • “I remember that picture from Thanksgiving last year. I remember feeling so ‘bleh’ in my body. How am I feeling more uncomfy now?? Will I ever be okay with what my body looks like at this moment? When will this end??” 

As you could imagine, living in this headspace was a painful, cyclical, and slippery slope. 

  • There were high expectations and unreachable perfectionism around food and eating. 
  • There was self-pity around my restriction contracts and lack of connection in all my “no’s” to food and family culture. 
  • And, of course the storm of shame rumbled and thundered with each one of these heavy beliefs and behaviors. 


We all know life chucks us some curveballs. A domino effect of lived experiences out of my control changed my course. I had acknowledged (with rigorous honesty) where my relationship with food and body stood, and that I deeply and earnestly wanted it to look different. 


Buuuut that’s a story for another blog post… let’s see where we’re at today! 



Since beginning my graduate school degree in Nutrition for Wellbeing and Health Coaching, I’ve felt a bit of outter-world tension from an understandable assumption that “I’ve figured this whole food and eating thing out”. 


Yes, there’s no doubt I’ve discovered a much greater sense of ease, freedom, enjoyment, and trust in my relationship with food and body, but NEWSFLASH!! HOT OFF THE PRESS!! This relationship is very much alive, dynamic, and lifelong. 


So to get honest and current, this holiday season is definitely a time of stepping into new territory around food and eating even for me! Part of my “domino effect course change” came with some passionate (and even a bit headstrong) created values around how I relate to foods in their *more* processed forms. Me, Marcy, did not eat white, brown, powdered, agave syrup-ed, monk-fruit-ed sweetener for over 3 years. 


Don’t get me wrong— I found joy in making sweet maple syrup brownies and frozen peanut butter cocoa dates to nibble on at night. And, honestly, for the most part, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much. 


On the flip side, my ego was rearing its head with “I have a solution!!”-itis and I still lived in “no’s”-ville for all the divine baked goods that people made for me out of love. Something didn’t feel totally aligned on this side of the coin. 


Thanks to my dual learning in school and working with Wise Heart Nutrition, I realized that this stubbornness (and downright restriction) around certain foods was not a message I wanted to share with the world and wasn’t well aligned with my values either.


So here I am, almost half a year after lifting the sweetener-restriction, allowing for complete food freedom…and it’s been a JOURNEY to feel (and eat) through.


I’ve made my rounds through the Wise Heart coined “F*ck it phase” around sugar consumption (aka: keep going back for more more more because I’m finally free to do so!!), felt the fear of body image dysmorphia from my change in eating (and faced some limiting beliefs around body and worth), and kept holding myself in the deeply tender feelings of compassion for a greater acceptance and truly humbled that, wow…


I am in a lifelong relationship with the food I eat and the body I reside in. 


From birth to last breath, relationships are ever-changing, dynamic, and as the laws of nature have shown me, are always moving towards greater balance and homeostasis.


There is no “figured it all out” finish line or throw your graduation caps in the air as an *MD in Food and Body All-Knowing Expert*. I’m learning to accept that this is a lifetime relationship and the ways I relate to food and body will be in a constant state of change, an ebb and flow, as long as I have a mouth to eat with, and as long as there is food to be eaten. 



Interestingly, there’s something rather peaceful about this big picture lifetime relationship mindset for me.


There is no solution or “right way” to be a human and eat. There are only tools that support me in feeling greater ease and compassion for my relationship to food in the present. 


Although my relationship and the foods I choose to put in my mouth may change over my lifetime, my greatest hopes, wishes, and desires for HOW I want to relate to food and my body through my life are intentionally rooted:


I desire freedom and balance with food 

I desire peace, enjoyment, and pleasure with food 

I hope I am nourished and satisfied by the foods I eat

I desire a healthy and loving relationship with food and my body


And my hope for all: may we be gentle with ourselves and our inner explorers navigating and learning in these lifelong relationships!


TL;DR Nuggets

We all have our own unique and varied emotions, feelings, and reflections that come up for us around food and eating during the holidays. 


We can acknowledge all the progress we’ve made from past ways we’ve related to food and our bodies during this season, and can have compassion and spacious acceptance knowing these relationships are lifelong and forever changing.


There is no finish line, no shiny trophy, no perfect solution that “I’ve finally figured out how to eat” in our dynamic, ever-changing relationship with food and our bodies. 


If we can acknowledge and move into greater acceptance that our values and beliefs around food and eating change throughout our lives, we can sit in gentle compassion for the ebb and flow of these relationships. 


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