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How to Manage Social Pressure Around the Holidays

Connect with Coach Julie   

In this series Coach Julie shares advice, strategies, and education on how to build healthy habits that last.

The holidays are a time to celebrate and honor traditions with family and friends. It can also be a challenging time for those of us on a healthy eating journey, as many traditions center around food. People often tell me that they have difficulty saying "no" to the social pressure of eating at holiday dinners and parties. The discomfort comes from feeling like they are disrespecting or insulting others when they don’t eat everything provided. Here are a few suggestions to help manage these situations: 

Ground yourself before going in 

Before you rush into the party or sit down at the holiday meal, stop and take a few deep breaths. Four or five is plenty, and acknowledge how you feel. Anxious? Stressed? Sad? Nervous? Put your hands over your heart, take a deep breath, and say, "I honor my health and my choices." Even a moment to acknowledge your feelings will put you in better touch with yourself, your hunger, and your boundaries. 

Learn to say "no"

Saying "no" to friends and family can be challenging, especially during holidays. This can be especially tough if it's folks we don't see very often. Still, asserting your boundaries, especially around food, is essential to self-empowerment and healthy living. When saying no, remember to be clear, firm, and kind. You can still be gracious while doing what's best for you.

Be polite with your portions

That being said, I know there are times when it can just feel too hard to turn down food. In these situations, I suggest accepting a very small portion and taking a bite or two. This allows you to be polite, while not forcing yourself to eat more than you’d like. 

Ditch the clean plate club

Be polite, but not too polite. Wasting food feels terrible, but stuffing yourself won't help those in need. If you're full, I give you permission to stop eating! 

Use your body language

If you've had enough, but are still feeling the pressure from others to eat more, a simple way to signal that you’re done is through your body language. This could look like pushing away from the table slightly, taking your dinner plate to the kitchen, or moving to a different part of the room where there isn't food. What you do will depend on the circumstances, of course, but changing your body language can be a helpful way to show others that you’re done. 

In summary, the holidays are an excellent time to practice your healthy habits around food. By honoring your health and choices, you’re still able to enjoy your meal (and company!) without missing out on holiday traditions. 


Our Coaches are here to support you in building healthy habits for the real world.  Work with them 1-on-1 for helpful, personalized tips on how to handle the holidays.  

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