The holidays can often be a binge fest for many of us. Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by sugar and fat. Whether it be a work-related holiday party or a family gathering with (sometimes unhealthy) traditional food that evokes warm memories, the holidays can feel like a constant attack on the senses for the health savvy.

Tis the season of love and forgiveness, they say, and in that holiday spirit, its important to forgive the most important person of all – you!

Have you ever had a huge meal and then felt regret about eating too much? Does that regret then degenerate into self-hatred, which then makes you give up on your goal, or eat more in order to punish yourself? I’m thinking of the cartoon Cathy, who millions of women have identified with over the years, and more recently, Mindy Lahiri of the Mindy Project. If these pop-culture phenomena strike a nerve with you, you are not alone in your self-loathing. However, it may not be helpful.

A study at the University of Canterbury gives us a few reasons why forgiving yourself is a positive when it comes to health habits during the holiday season:

  1. People who associate food with guilt are less likely to lose weight in the short term compared to those who associate it with celebration
  2. People who associate guilt with food are more likely to have less control over their eating
  3. Those who associate guilt with food are less likely to maintain their weight.

The above study does not mean that people who feel less guilt around food are skinnier, nor does it definitely say there is overall no benefit to using guilt to help you with a diet, but it is food for thought, but it makes you think twice about the self-hatred many of us engage in during the holidays.