Intuitive Eating During the Holidays
Let’s discuss intuitive eating during the holidays, shall we?
We all know that as a dieter, the holidays can feel like navigating a minefield.
With so much “special” or “off limit” foods around you, you might spend 100% of your energy simply trying not to fly off the rails. But willpower wanes and by mid-December, for most dieters, it’s common to have officially entered the “screw it” phase of the year, which is essentially an extended binge in anticipation of the great diet commencement of New Years. The ‘Last Supper’ to end all last suppers, before we get back to business.
Now that you’re on the path of intuitive eating though, you’re probably hoping this year will be different.
You’ve been practicing the principles. You’re likely binging and emotionally eating less. You might even be feeling like you’ve got some of that brain space back. Who knows, perhaps you’re thinking it’s possible that you’ll just relax and enjoy the season this year.
But if you’re just getting those little doe legs underneath you on this journey, you might also be feeling a little nervous and apprehensive as the calendar inches toward Thanksgiving.
So today, we wanted to share some tips for intuitive eating during the holidays. We wanted to help you navigate this upcoming stretch of the year with a touch more ease and peace.
Tips for Intuitive Eating During the Holidays
Remember the foundation: honor your physical hunger.
Make sure that you are well fed, regularly. Do not approach holiday meals or events in a ravenous state of hunger. Do not skip breakfast in anticipation of the turkey and stuffing. The combination of ravenous physical hunger, specialty foods you might not have had the opportunity to make peace with just yet, and emotional, family dynamics, is a recipe for a goddamn disaster. Consider staying out of uncomfortable hunger a profound act of self-care this year.
We’re also expanding on this topic over on the pod. If you’re rather listen in, you can do so here:
Reclaim positive emotional eating.
Although emotional eating is demonized in diet culture, the intuitive eating space makes room for this natural human inclination without judgement. Food is comfort. It does connect us. It can be special and familial and a way in which we express togetherness, love and celebration. It should be a source of joy. Try to reclaim that joy around food this season and remember that you get to eat emotionally when it feels good for you.
Consider your boundaries around dieting, food and body with loved ones.
Spend a bit of time anticipating what you may encounter from loved ones that could be harmful for you on this journey. Does your Aunt consistently talk about dieting? Does your mom make comments about your body or food choices? Get clear on your own boundaries around this topic. Consider how you might communicate and uphold those boundaries for yourself. Plan to protect yourself, another act of self-care.
Consider your needs and boundaries in general.
The holidays can be tricky for self-care in general. With more on your literal and metaphorical plate, it can feel draining to get all things done when our natural energy is waning. It might also take more effort to feel physically well this time of year. Maybe there’s extra booze and sugar, late nights, less sunshine, more stress, etc. And a disproportionate amount of food that might not be optimal for our moods and energy. Take care of yourself. Because when you physically feel like shit, it’s easier to emotionally feel like shit. What do you need to feel physically well this season? And how can you make sure you’re getting it? What can you add in? Always thinking in terms of more vs. restriction. More rest? More sunshine? More movement? More alone time? More saying “no?” What would feel good right now? When we feel better in our bodies, we tend to feel better about our bodies.
Try to maintain a practice mindset.
Most recovering dieters are also recovering perfectionists, people pleasers, black and white, all-or-nothing thinkers. Set the intention to meet this challenging season with that practice mindset. Consider how many amazing opportunities to practice lay in wait for you throughout the holiday season and get excited to test your new skills.
Accessorize each holiday outfit with a chic anthropologist’s hat.
Whether it’s a beanie, beret, or fascinator – whatever feels right in your soul. Set the intention to meet each eating experience with the curiosity of a non judgmental observer. For example, instead of “Ugh, I can’t believe I ate all of those cookies, now I’m stuffed, I’m such a disgusting slob,” you might say “The woman consumed multiple, circular disks containing sugar, flour and eggs and afterwards felt a mild discomfort in her digestive tract.” Notice without judgement. That’s where the ahas are.
Have fun setting some intentions.
Instead of scrambling into the season in reaction mode, think through how you’d actually like to feel this year. What you’d like to do. How you’d like to take care of yourself. Who you’d like to spend time with. How you’d love to see it all unfold. Make those things your focus.
Get fresh air every day.
Even if it’s just for a few minutes. Fresh air is crucial for our mood and mental health.
Set time for reflection.
It’s really easy, and human nature, to blow past our tiny, qualitative wins in this process and focus only on how much more we need or want to work on. Set some time aside after each eating experience or event this season and note all the positives you can think of. Notice how, even if only so subtly, your relationship with food and your body has shifted. What is better than the last holiday season you survived as a dieter? What’s different? What have you noticed? What are you grateful for? Taking the time to celebrate little wins helps us to keep having them. And this entire process is made up of hundreds or even thousands of little wins that build up to massive change.
Bonus Tip for Intuitive Eating During the Holidays
Remember that there is no right or wrong, pass or fail. Each food and body related experience is more data to get to know yourself better and learn to take better care of yourself over time. This is a journey of discovery, unlearning and relearning. You’re recalibrating your entire relationship to food, your body and ultimately to yourself. And it takes time.
Intuitive eating during the holidays, especially when you’re just starting out, can be tricky. But, if this wasn’t a deeply challenging process, none of us would ever need help with it.
Speaking of, if you’re struggling, do these two things today: