Trust Your Intuition


By Katy Keogh, MS, RDN, LD

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How to navigate the holidays using intuitive eating. 

A new revolution is on the rise—a non-diet, body acceptance, weight-inclusive, self-care, and mindfulness movement called intuitive eating (IE). And there’s no better time to start your IE journey than this holiday season! The goal? To work toward a better relationship with food, so we can stress less about eating and just enjoy the magical time of year.

On their website, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch—the two dietitians who created the IE framework—describe it as an evidence-based, mind-body health approach comprised of 10 principles. Since its inception, its wellness benefits have been backed by numerous research studies and seen first-hand in the multitude of patients that dietitians practicing IE have seen transformed.

How to apply some of the key principles of intuitive eating to the holidays 

  • Ditch dieting and anything that resembles dieting like tracking food, or “watching what you eat.” Vow to not succumb to another diet or weight-focused New Year’s resolution.
  • Listen for your hunger signals. Make sure you are eating regularly with a variety of foods and fluids. Don’t “save up” for holiday meals. If you ignore hunger, skip meals, or don’t eat enough, you might become ravenous later and eat past fullness.
  • Leave restriction and food rules behind. If you allow yourself unconditional permission to eat, the excitement of “forbidden foods” may diminish. Savor those holiday meals and cookies you desire.
  • Cut off negative food language from both your inner and outer food police. Intuitive eating means that the words “good” or “bad” should not be used—or even thought—when referring to food or eating habits.
  • Use mindful eating to derive optimal pleasure out of your holiday favorites. Soak up the joy of the season, the environment, the aromas, the taste of every bite. You might find you’re more content, satiated, and in tune with your fullness signals.
  • Check your fullness cues throughout eating. Explore reasons for wanting to eat past fullness: maybe it’s because the food is so delicious, you are processing some feelings, you were too hungry or deprived, or are feeling peer pressure when served a larger portion. None of these are wrong. It happens more often during celebrations. Just take note and feel it.
  • Find other ways to cope or celebrate. Food is an important part of our culture, and it’s normal to eat for emotional and social reasons, like during the holidays. But ask yourself—with kindness—are you eating when you are not hungry or to cope? No guilt needed, just explore the thought and take note.
  • All bodies deserve respect. Because the winter holiday season often centers around food, it’s often associated with weight gain. This can be stressful, not to mention the insecurities we may feel seeing people we haven’t in a while. However, remind yourself that your self-worth should not be connected to your size, now or ever.

Stop the body and food stress, guilt, deprivation, and “all-or-none” food mentality that often backfires and does more harm than good. This holiday season is the perfect time to decide to take a different, self-care route. Pick one or two IE principles to focus on and grab a buddy or a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor to support you through your journey.

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