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Embracing Intuitive Eating During the Holiday Season

by Haley Osborn

As the holiday season approaches, many people may feel anxiety and overwhelming pressure surrounding food. It’s important to navigate our relationship with food in a way that honors our body’s needs and respects our well-being, especially around holidays that tend to put a big spotlight on food. This time of year can often come with an array of food related challenges, but it’s crucial to approach this time with a focus on intuitive eating. This blog aims to act as a guide for intuitive eating during the holiday season so that you may fully enjoy precious time spent with your family and friends!

embracing intuitive eating during the holiday season

Intuitive eating is a self-care eating framework, which integrates instinct, rational thought, and knowledge. It’s about listening to your body’s hunger cues, eating foods that satisfy and nourish you, and acknowledging that no food is morally good or bad. This approach is especially beneficial during the holiday season, when traditional diet culture often heightens.

Pay attention to your body’s hunger signals. Eat when you’re hungry instead of waiting until you’re overly famished. This helps to ensure you are able to enjoy your food. When filling your plate, don’t leave things behind because your aunt told you “that’s got a lot of [x,y,z] in it.” Instead, choose foods that sound tasty and satisfying long term to YOU. Remember, you are feeding YOUR body, not anyone else’s!

Give yourself unconditional permission to eat the foods you enjoy. Restriction can lead to negative eating behaviors later on. Remember that no foods are inherently “good” or “bad.” All foods can be part of a balanced and enjoyable way of eating!

Take your time when you’re eating. Enjoy conversation with your friends and family. Savor your food, think about how it tastes and smells. This will help you to be mindful and present, leading to much more enjoyment than the alternative. Don’t shame yourself for fueling your body. Instead, remind yourself of what this food is allowing you to do (have energy, be present with family, regulated mood, etc…)!

Responding to a family member who makes comments about your appearance or food choices, especially during times like holiday gatherings, can be delicate. It’s important to approach these situations in a way that preserves your mental well-being and sets boundaries while allowing harmony in your relationships (this part isn’t up to us solely, though). Here are some strategies and example responses you might consider:

Response Example: “I appreciate your concern, but I’m comfortable with my choices and would prefer we focus on enjoying our time together rather than discussing my appearance or what I eat.”

Response Example: “I’m actually following a philosophy of intuitive eating/body positivity, which is really helping me. I can share more about it if you’re interested.”

Response Example: “When you comment on my body/food choices, it makes me feel [uncomfortable, upset, etc.]. I value our relationship, so I want to share how I feel.”

Intuitive eating during the holiday season is about maintaining a healthy relationship with food and enjoying the festive season. Remember, it’s a time of joy and celebration, not restriction and guilt. Listen to your body, eat what feels good, and most importantly, enjoy the holiday spirit!

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