The holiday season is meant to be filled with joy and celebration. But when it comes to holiday eating, this can be a source of stress and anxiety for many. This time of year is known for more indulgent recipes with treats around every corner. It can feel overwhelming to prioritize your health while still enjoying your favorite holiday foods. But it is possible!
Practicing intuitive eating during the holidays can help take the stress out of eating and help you feel more calm and confident around food. Try adding these tips for intuitive eating throughout the holidays to help improve your relationship with food and bring the joy back to eating this holiday season.
Ditch the diet mentality - As we enter the holiday season, it’s easy to get trapped in the mindset of “I’ll eat what I want now and just go on a diet or cleanse in January”. However, this often leads to feeling out of control around food. Instead of mindfully enjoying some of our favorite dishes, we’re so focused (even if it’s subconsciously!) on eating as much as we can now because it will be off limits come january 1st. Letting go of the need to count calories and restrict throughout the holiday season, as well as jump on the latest diet in the new year, will allow you to relax, enjoy food, and focus on the true meaning of the holidays.
Commit to eating what you enjoy - Give yourself permission to enjoy the holiday foods. The more you restrict your favorite holiday foods, the more appealing they become. You end up putting the food on a pedestal. By avoiding these foods completely, you’re only setting yourself up to feel out of control around them. Then when you do choose to eat the food, you often can’t stop. Subconsciously, your brain doesn’t know if it will ever get the food again, causing you to overeat in the moment. Plus, forgoing foods you actually want for something less appealing or something you perceive to be healthier takes the joy and satisfaction out of eating.
Honor your hunger - Tuning into your hunger and fullness, while also understanding that you may eat past the point of fullness occasionally, is one of the best ways you can support intuitive eating. Start listening to your body’s hunger cues a little closer. Eat when you feel a sensation of hunger and enjoy your food until you are satisfied. Don’t try to “save” calories by not eating all day. This typically backfires, causing you to overeat the holiday party. Feeding your body according to what you need throughout the day, can help you truly enjoy your holiday food and actually stop when you’re satisfied.
Trust your body - Your body knows how to self-regulate. It’s your job to trust it. Understand that you may eat over the point of comfortably full during the holidays. But that’s okay! Overindulging is not worth beating yourself up over it. Practice letting go of any guilt around food and being more compassionate with yourself. Your body will regulate over time whether that means feeling less hungry or having more energy to move.
Support your unique health - You can still enjoy the holidays while prioritizing your health. Focus on nourishing foods that make you feel your best while still enjoying foods that bring your joy. Eating a variety of seasonal produce filled with vitamins and minerals along with foods rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats will help ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs to function optimally. Remember, when it comes to health, it’s what you eat consistently over time that matters more than one day or few weeks out of the entire year.
The holiday season should be about joy and celebration, not stressing out over food. Adding these intuitive eating practices during the holiday season can help you feel more calm around food, while enjoying the season to the fullest. Plus, the more you practice these intuitive eating techniques, the easier it becomes to eat well and enjoy foods you love throughout the year!
Looking for easy, nutrient-dense recipes for the holidays? Check out our recipe page here.
About the RD
Jessica Bippen, MS, RD, founder of Nourished by Nutrition.
She believes in a forever approach to living well by helping others understand the science behind nutrition and wellness while tailoring it to their unique body and lifestyle. She's the author of Collagen: Self-Care Secrets to Eat, Drink, and Glow and is frequently featured in media outlets including HUM Nutrition, Well+Good, Free People, and Tammy Hembrow Fitness.
Follow along with Nourished by Nutrition on Instagram for more tips, recipes, and wellness inspiration.