Fat-Positive PCOS Holiday Guide
The holidays are tough for many people, so when you add the stress of having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), it makes this time of year all the more chaotic. It’s even more difficult for those of us who embrace fat-positivity and have loved ones that don’t quite understand it. As a fat-positive registered dietitian that has PCOS, I personally know how challenging this can be. These are my tips for making this holiday easier.
Enjoy your Favorite Holiday Foods Without a Side of Guilt
I’ve spent way too many holidays feeling guilty after eating out of fear that I’ve undid all of my efforts to manage my PCOS. This ultimately left me feeling stressed around food and made it almost impossible to truly feel present enough to enjoy holiday meals. After I realized that people can manage their PCOS with Intuitive Eating, the holidays became so much more enjoyable. I urge you to give yourself permission to enjoy your favorite holiday foods this year and avoid engaging in restriction as a way to punish yourself for eating these foods.
Honor Your PCOS Care Rituals
As the days get shorter and busier with holiday obligations, try to honor the activities that support your PCOS. After learning that “PCOS thrives on chaos” from Maria Paredes, I encourage people with PCOS to engage in flexible routines and rituals that help manage their PCOS (supplements, self-care, joyful movement, etc). I’ve found that it typically requires a little extra effort to maintain these routines during the holiday season It always feels rewarding to intentionally and gently care for my body.
Remember that You Don’t Need to Justify or Explain Weight Changes
Weight fluctuations occur in every body and are particularly common among people with PCOS. There can be so much overwhelm and fear in seeing friends and family for the first time after experiencing weight gain. Know that your body doesn’t require defending or explaining. It can simply exist. Your presence and worth are not de-valued because you are taking up more space than before. Avoid performance eating or movement that tie your worth to your ability to model seemingly “healthy behaviors.” Remember that your loved ones are lucky to connect with you, and the last thing they should be doing is making you feel inferior because your body changed.
Explore Gentle Nutrition
I’ve found it helpful to support my PCOS and manage my energy levels with gentle nutrition. Adding protein, fat, and/or fiber to meals/snacks helps me avoid energy crashes throughout the day. Does this mean that I never have a snack that without one of these components? No way! I notice what helps me feel both satisfied and energized. If you don’t know where to start, I’ve found that most holiday parties have nuts (fat), cheese (protein), and veggies (fiber). One of my favorite holiday combos is milk with homemade Christmas cookies (I make a divine white chocolate cranberry coconut cookie). Invest in gentle nutrition as a way to support yourself unconditionally without trying to control your body.
Prioritize Time to Rest, Recharge, and SLEEP
The chaos of the holiday season makes it difficult to get enough rest. Many people with PCOS already struggle with getting adequate sleep, and fluctuating schedules throughout the holidays can make it even harder to feel well-rested. I’ve noticed that carving out me-time helps me manage my stress levels, which ultimately supports my PCOS. It also makes the holidays more enjoyable. If I’m exposed to fatphobic comments or conversations at holiday events, I honor that my body and mind may need extra time to recharge. When I’m sleep-deprived or feeling burnt out, I have trouble focusing and can’t hold space for completing anything else on this holiday guide. Support your PCOS by honoring your body’s need for rest throughout the holiday season. I hope that this guide helps you feel more connected to your body as you manage your PCOS throughout the holidays. As the near year approaches, check out my list of Body Positive PCOS New Years Resolutions that was featured on Julie Duffy Dillon’s blog.
Have a Happy Fat-Positive Holiday!