What is intuitive eating? Intuitive eating is a nutrition philosophy based on the evidence that becoming more attuned to the body’s natural hunger signals is a more effective way to attain a healthy body weight, rather than keeping track of the amounts of energy and fats in food.  I use this philosophy very frequently with my clients.

My top 3 tips for holiday eating typically have nothing to do with the actual foods we eat, but the way we approach food and our mindset with food.

Make Peace with Food

There seems to be so many “forbidden foods” around the holidays. However, it is important to give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular holiday food, it can lead to overwhelming feelings of deprivation that could potentially build into intense cravings or even bingeing.  When you finally give-in to your forbidden food, eating can be experienced with such intensity, that it usually results in overeating and guilt. When you give yourself permission to enjoy that favorite holiday treat, perhaps pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, then you may be more likely to say “no thank you” to the store bought sugar cookies or dried out fudge in the office or at school parties.

During the busy holiday season, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence – the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience.

Hara Hachi Bu

Hara hachi bu means to eat until you are 80% satisfied. During the busy holiday season, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence – the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you truly desire, in an environment that is welcoming and supportive, the pleasure that grows will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. Not only are we nourished by food, but we can feel nourished by this pleasure and satisfaction as well. By allowing yourself to experience this, you will find that it takes much less food to decide if you’ve had “enough”.  We all have a basic inner wisdom when it comes to eating, and if you can cultivate that wisdom, you will be able to listen to when your body is 80% satisfied. Maximizing pleasure around food is a wonderful motivator to choose foods that taste good and feel good to your body.

Honor Your Feelings without Using Food

Depression, anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger, and stress are all emotions that everyone experiences throughout their lifetime and maybe even around the holidays. It is important to remember that food will never fix any of these feelings. When a feeling does not originate from food, food will never satisfy it. Food may comfort in the short term or maybe even numb the feeling temporarily, but food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger will only make you feel worse in the long run. You will ultimately have to deal with two things: the source of the emotion, as well as the results of overeating.  

Find ways to comfort, nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food such as:

  • Take a brisk walk
  • Take a yoga class
  • Dive into a creative hobby
  • Make a warm cup of herbal tea
  • Write in your journal
  • Call a friend
  • Cross a task off your to-do list
  • Give yourself permission to take a break
  • Take an Epson salt bath
  • Spend time with a pet
  • Curl up with a book and a cozy blanket
  • Take a power nap
  • Visit a local art or historical museum
  • Do a mini-declutter
  • Set a boundary
  • Spend time in nature
  • Light a candle and meditate
Katie Abbott, MS, RDN, INHC

Author Katie Abbott, MS, RDN, INHC

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