Whether you are new in your intuitive eating journey or have been practicing this way of living for awhile, the holidays can make things tricky. Special foods, family comments, drinking, and many other obstacles can make listening to your body seem impossible. Here are some proven tips to help you navigate how to eat intuitively during the holiday season.
Allow Yourself To Be Satisfied
This is the time of year that certain special foods make an appearance. Maybe it’s your grandmother’s famous gingerbread cookies or your neighbor’s yearly gift of monkey bread. The scarcity factor of these special occasion foods can make being around them scary, especially if you are new to your intuitive eating practice.
You don’t need to fear that you will binge on all of the things at your family holiday party, or throw out the cookie tray that you best friend made just for you. One of the most important things you can do to enjoy the special foods you want and avoid binging on the entire plate of cookies is to turn your focus to being satisfied.
Sometimes the allure of the foods that only seem to be available once a year can overpower our ability to choose what foods we like and can also keep us from actually enjoying those foods.
The next time you are choosing a special holiday treat to enjoy, be selective. Check in to see what flavor or texture sounds appealing to you in the moment. Choose the food you want and allow yourself to truly enjoy that food. Allow yourself to taste, smell, and savor each bite. Did the food taste as good as you thought it would? Are you still hungry or still wanting another special food item?
The objective is not to avoid eating the special holiday foods. The purpose is to eat what you want and to allow yourself to enjoy that food. This allows you to feel satisfied, not deprived, and focus on other important parts of the party not only the food.
Eat Regular Meals
It can be tempting to “save up” for a big holiday dinner party by eating less throughout the day. Saving up so that you either save calories or feel more hungry to enjoy the delicious food is a sure way to sabotage your intuitive eating practice.
When you avoid eating earlier in the day, you will likely get to the party feeling hungry. You may even feel a more extreme form of hunger known as primal hunger. This intense drive to eat leads to preoccupation with food, difficulty tuning into body cues, and increases the chance that you will overeat and end your meal feeling painfully full.
To set yourself up for an enjoyable party and a pleasant eating experience, eating at regular intervals during the day is a must. This means eating your breakfast, lunch, and any snacks you need to avoid feeling intensely hungry prior to the party.
That being said, sometimes it is necessary to apply practical hunger and eating prior to an event with food. This could include altering your mealtimes or snacks so that you can enter the party feeling hungry, but not too hungry.
Be Prepared To Say No (Or To Ask For More!)
Learning how to eat intuitively in your own home on your own terms can be tricky enough. The holidays bring plenty of opportunities to have your eating patterns influenced by family and friends who mean well, but will not always understand your new way of viewing food and your body.
In most cultures, food and eating has a certain emotional aspect to it, which is most often a wonderful experience that brings people together. In a similar way, food can be used to show that we love or care for someone, and the pressure to eat even when we do not want something is real.
Be prepared with responses to persistent family members who urge you to “have a piece of pie”, “finish your plate”, or eat “just one more” when you truly do not want to.
Pairing a no thank you with a compliment can help you honor your body and also please those who feel valued by sharing food. Something along the lines of,
” Everything was so wonderful, I couldn’t eat another bite! If I could take the pie home I would love to eat it when I could truly enjoy it. ”
Can work wonders.
At the same time, be prepared to ask for seconds, or to eat what you truly want even if no one else is eating it. When you check in with your fullness and your satisfaction levels, it is okay to eat differently than others around the table. Get comfortable with not comparing yourself to what other’s are eating.
Show Yourself Compassion
As you focus on how to eat intuitively during the holiday season, it is essential to remember that the most important part of this process is showing yourself compassion.
When the pie is just too good to stop at one piece and you end up feeling overfull, acknowledge it as an experience and move on. The beauty of intuitive eating is that you cannot possibly fail.
Making the conscious decision to eat something even if you are not hungry so that you can enjoy and participate in an experience is a normal part of eating and a normal part of living. The holidays are the perfect time to remind yourself that food is emotional and it is a part of celebration.
Use the tips above to find your balance between honoring your body’s needs with your emotional needs to truly enjoy this holiday season.