The holiday season is upon us! The holidays are filled with joy but can also be difficult for many of us. Unfortunately, the delicious foods are often accompanied by stress, expectations, and diet talk. In order to redefine what the holiday season means to you; I encourage you to practice the principles of Intuitive Eating. Here are a few tips that will give you the opportunity for a peaceful, memorable season.
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
Unfortunately, diet talk is common during this time of year. I am sure you have heard something along the lines of, “I’m going to let myself eat what I want during the holidays because I am starting a diet in the new year.” This kind of mentality isn’t supportive of an enjoyable holiday season. Remember, diets don’t work! Our goal is finding food freedom, even during this time of year.
2. Honor Your Hunger
You may be tempted to skip breakfast for the big holiday meal later or for a party in the evening. I’m here to tell you this is not a good idea! Just like any other day, it’s important to nourish the body with a balanced meal or snack every 3-5 hours. Skipping a meal or going too long without eating will only have you feeling ravenous later, which makes it difficult to be present for the event.
3. Make Peace with All Foods
This is especially important during this time of year. My favorite part about this time of year is creating positive food memories with friends and family. There are several recipes that my family makes during this time that hold a special place in my memory. Let yourself eat AND enjoy these delicious foods without guilt. This isn’t easy and will require practice and patience but finding food freedom is worth it. There is much more to food than just nutrition, especially this time of year. We want to be physically, mentally, and emotionally satisfied. My favorites are macaroni and cheese and chocolate pie!
4. Challenge the Food Police
Unfortunately, the food police often try extra hard to ruin your holiday. Be prepared for this! You may have a friend or family member that is always talking about “good / bad food.” Make a choice to either respond to them and set a boundary or have a good response to yourself. If someone comments on how much or what you are eating, you may want to politely ask them not to comment on this. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, respond to yourself in a supportive way. Remind yourself of your intention.
5. Feel Your Fullness
Just like hunger, we want to respect our fullness cues. Aim to eat your food mindfully and savor each bite to increase satisfaction. However, feeling overly full from time to time during the holidays is normal. Try not to shame yourself for this feeling but practice self-compassion.
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
This might be my favorite principle. It’s so important to feel physically, emotionally, and mentally satisfied. What makes your eating experience satisfying? Food is much more than simply nutrition, especially this time of year. For me, trying a new recipe and sharing it wiht my family is very special and makes the experience satisfying.
7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
Remember, it’s one thing to feel, but another to react. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, stressed, irritated… but think about the appropriate way to handle these emotions. It’s okay to take breaks. During this time, it's easy to feel overwhelmed with parties and events. Setting boundaries is a way to prevent burnout. If you need to say no to an event or excuse yourself for a moment of alone time, do it! You may need to step outside for some fresh air, go for a walk or drive, or call a support person.
8. Respect Your Body
It’s unrealistic for us to think we are going to love our body every day, however we DO always need to respect it. What does body respect mean to you? There is a lot that goes into this and it’s not just what you eat and how often you exercise. Respecting your body includes paying attention to your body’s cues, getting enough sleep, joyful movement, self-care, etc.
9. Finding Joy in Movement
I encourage you to move in a way that is fun and feels good! Try to plan something fun with your family or friends. Every year, my family gets together for a competitive game of kickball. We look forward to this and it’s a great way to move in a joyful way.
10. Gentle Nutrition
It’s all about balance. During this time, it’s still important to fuel our bodies in a way that gives us energy and makes us feel good! Try to eat balanced, consistent meals that include various food groups. This will give you the energy you need for all the events coming up.
Remember, that each of these principles requires the 3 P’s of Intuitive Eating: Practice, Patience, and Paying Attention. You will not master these overnight and that’s okay. Every experience from here on out is a learning experience and an opportunity for you to teach yourself something new about yourself. I hope everyone has an amazing holiday season filled with positivity & gratitude.
If you are looking to learn more about Intuitive Eating and achieving a positive relationship with food, reach out to us. We have an amazing group of dietitians that would love to support you throughout your journey.
No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.