Winter break and the holidays usually mean a change in routine. For many of us, the changes come as a welcome reprieve from the pace of the semester. And for some of us, when routines change, anxiety increases – especially considering the additional stressors of financial constraints, relationship worries, travel plans, obligatory events, and holiday meals. For a broad look at strategies to minimize holiday stress, read Managing Wellbeing During the Holidays. In that article, we suggest for readers to: “Focus on food flexibility. Remember that all foods (yes, all foods!) have nutrition to offer. Savor the holiday flavors!” This tip comes from intuitive eating practices, which are centered around trusting your inner body’s wisdom to make choices around food that feel good in your body, without judgment. This mindset allows eating to be intuitive, imperfect, free from food rules, and nourishing for the brain, body, and soul.
Intuitive eating is a focus on reconnecting with our body’s hunger and fullness cues and understanding some of the emotional and behavioral reasons for why we eat.
Intuitive eating is comprised of 10 principles, all centered around freeing yourself from the restrictions we put on ourselves surrounding food and trusting our bodies.
By practicing intuitive eating, you allow yourself to enjoy all of the holiday foods you desire without going overboard or feeling out of control when it comes to food. Some tips for intuitive eating:
Savor your food
- When you eat, do so mindfully and with intention.
- Allow yourself to experience food wholly and completely, without judgment.
- Observe how your body feels when eating holiday foods and how satisfying it is to your taste buds.
- Excite your palate with multiple flavors and different textures.
- Savor the sensations of food – taste, texture, aroma, appearance, and temperature.
- Consider “what sounds good to me right now?”
- Give yourself permission to seek and feel pleasure in your food.
- Practice gratitude for the food that is nourishing you.
- Our bodies thrive when we eat a variety of foods.
- Food is more than fuel – it’s also a way to bring those we love together and connect with them.
- Practice gratitude for the relationships that you’re building this holiday season.
Embrace your intuition
- Bring extra awareness to body cues and intuition.
- Listen for and honor your feelings of hunger, fullness, and satisfaction.
- Listen to and honor body sensations that indicate or signal hunger. This could include growling stomach, slight headache, inability to focus, lack of energy, thoughts drifting toward food.
- As soon as you notice biological hunger, make time to eat a food or snack that is physically and psychologically satisfying.
- Slow down food consumption so you can notice how your body feels as you eat.
- When you notice feelings of satifaction or satiation, stop eating. Eat again when you feel hunger or after 2-3 hours have passed. Help your body remember that you will regularly feed it!
- Practice gratitude for the wisdom your body holds.
Give yourself unconditional permission to eat
- Eat the foods you enjoy without shame or judgment. There’s room for all the foods!
- Put all foods on the same playing field. If we can approach all foods as emotionally equal, we can begin to connect with our own inner wisdom. Make turkey emotionally equivalent to pumpkin pie or fruits equivalent to chocolates.
- Give yourself unconditional permission to eat what you enjoy and eat until you’re satisfied or feel full.
- Practice gratitude for making peace with food.