How to End the Battle with Holiday Food

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Today’s guest post comes all the way from Cincinnati, from one of my dear colleagues Janelle Johnson-Grove. Janelle and I went to the same nutrition school and what I particularly love about her work is her focus on the emotional and spiritual aspect of food and healing. Because we all know food isn’t just about what’s on our dinner plates! The layers and layers behind our food choices quickly get complex, but Janelle helps us unwind them. See how you can come to peace with food this holiday season! 

Hello and ho, ho, ho from Cincy!

This is the season for holiday glam and food indulgences.  For many, fear around food grows and the battle within intensifies.

I want you to transform that fear that comes with the holiday dazzle and sazzle and get into your holiday eating groove.

You see…I know what it is like to face that explosion of holiday foods meeting you at every turn.  I know what it is like to fear that the abundant food is going to make an abundant you.  I know what it is like to feel a battle inside…wanting so much to enjoy the season and all its alluring sugary indulgences while feeling that inner clutch of fear and guilt that you’ve lost control (again!).

So often we are functioning in a mix of trying to be in control of food and trying to enjoy a little bit here and there.  We want to let go and be free.  But, when we let go, we feel an underlying fear that our pleasure is too much and too deep and then we want to be in control again.

Does this sound familiar????

End the Battle with holiday food |

What to do:

Option 1 – Let out a sigh of self-defeat and be taken over by the tidal wave of holiday puffed-up, spiced and seductive foods.


Option 2 – Muster up some super-ninja willpower, and with gritted teeth and tightened fists resist all the holiday treats threatening you at every turn.


Instead, I want you to try something new to interrupt the battle and emotional tangle around food…

Option 3 – I want you to consider how can you have THE MOST PRO-ACTIVE PLEASURE around food this season.  Instead of fearing or feeling tension around food…I want you to strategize and optimize your pleasure.

This is different that giving in (food having control over you).

This is about you being in joyful control by putting on your sassy boots and walking up to the holiday table, pointing to your favorite goodies, and saying, “Yes!  I know you and I know how to enjoy you in just the right way.”

Are you afraid of pleasure?

Afraid of its potency and fear yourself in the hands of pleasure…that you might go too far, do too much, lose yourself and your way?  We have been taught restraint, control, and balanced enjoyment.  Some have even been taught that pleasure is or can be evil.

When you are fearful around food this puts your body in a stressed state. Being fearful about food, your body (weight gain, current size, interpretations of lacking beauty, etc), or how much you eat  – elevates stress hormones.  These stress hormones interfere with the ability of your body to digest, absorb, and for you to actually feel and understand that you have fully tasted, enjoyed, and are satiated from the food that was on your plate. In this stressed state, you actually need to eat more in order to finally feel full and the pleasure of what you ate.

In other words, being stressed actually de-sensitizes you to pleasure.   This is no good!

This season I want to challenge you to look pleasure right in the eye, hold its hand, follow its lead and see where it will take you.

If I asked you today – how would you like to live your life?  You might say things like you wanted to live with passion, gusto, love, presence, intuition, and more.  This is exactly how to eat this season…and really how to eat all the time.

Imagine that food was your deep love.  You would come to the table with joyful anticipation, you might put on something lovely, you would desire to savor every moment and every bite, you would want each moment to last, and you would revel in each glorious taste. Do you see what I am getting at here?

Food is not to be feared.

It is to be loved, celebrated, anticipated, and welcomed as a gift of love and nurturance to you.

Can you envision pleasure with food with this much potency?

So, how to get out of the stressed-state (the battle) and in the pro-active pleasure state of eating?

Let’s get practical:

1.     Slow way, way down. Relaxation and slowness are key to increasing attentiveness, sensuality, and pleasure.  This then optimizes your ability to truly taste, digest, and set up the proper hormonal cues for pleasurable satiation (in contrast to feeling bloated and engorged from unaware-hurried eating).

2.     Notice fearful thoughts and/or body sensations.  Pause and send some thanks to these thoughts and feelings. They are your cues for you to get on track to joy, peace, and pleasure again.  But, in no way are the fears going to drive and determine your actions this season.  Instead, breathe into them instead of fighting them. Then try some gentle challenges to shift the energy…”Is this really true?”, “What is that I do want?”, “How do I want to feel?”

3.     Eat food with increased sensuality. Pick up one holiday treat, find a beautiful plate, sit down, and look at it for awhile.  What is happening in your mind and body?  Smell the treat, take one bite, set the treat down, and chew it as sensuously and slowly as you can.  How does it really taste?  What is happening in your body? Breathe deeply and chew some more.  Pause and look at the treat again.  Notice how enticing it is.  Take another bite.

4.     Trust.  Your body was designed for pleasure around food.  This is a primal mechanism designed to help you find that which your body needs.  The cues get distorted with all the food and lifestyle chaos around us.  But the internal cues of pleasure are still there and can be fine-tuned the more we slow down and heed them.

Do you have other ways to be pro-active with pleasure around food?  If so, I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

If you would love to hear more about getting messy and eating sugar or more about using your desires to fuel your wellness, come on over and visit my site.

May you all have a happy, pro-active pleasure-filled season.

With holiday mirth,

Janelle Johnson-Grove Janelle works with women who want to take charge of their health naturally. She goes beyond developing food practices and infuses soul awareness into the emotional dynamics surrounding eating and food choices. Janelle is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and NTA Instructor who received her Masters in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Janelle is also the owner and founder of SageFire Wellness – a nutrition consulting practice based in Cincinnati, OH. Janelle studied with the Institute for the Psychology of Eating so that along with her functional and educational approach with clients, she integrates the mind/body connection when it comes to building one’s relationship with food and overcoming mental and emotional roadblocks to optimal nutritional practices.  You can find her at


1 Comment

  1. Leslie


    I love how this ties into the last post from Deb – the holidays really are an opportunity to tune in to the body and ask what it wants, how much, and truly enjoy what we’re treating ourselves to. I often find that when I do this, I don’t even want more of that decadent treat – one bite is usually enough! And, other times, I have the whole piece of pie and enjoy every bite. But it really is fun to get present and enjoy my food…and listen to my body too. Happy holidays!

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