The holidays are filled with the people we love, celebrations, and of course, food. It can be a challenging time for many, especially if your focus is on the calories and trying to avoid the charcuterie board or holiday cookies. Being stressed about food or your body can take away the enjoyment and your ability to focus on making memories.
Don’t allow your worries and the talk of new year’s diets and weight loss plans take the forefront. Instead, try these tips to focus on embracing intuitive eating this holiday season and to shift your mindset.
It can be tempting to try and eat “clean” for the days leading up to holiday celebrations and gatherings. You may also be in the habit of skipping meals on the day of that big family supper. Trying to “save your calories” or even “save your appetite” for the special meal can be harmful.
Restricting yourself only leaves you arriving at meals ravenous. Rather than eating until comfortably full, you are more likely to overeat. Not only might you feel unwell or guilty afterwards, this can also trigger a cycle of restriction and overeating again in the future. Instead, view holiday meals like a regular meal out of your day. Continue to eat three nutritious meals at regular times and snacks as you normally would.
A big part of intuitive or mindful eating involves listening to your body. This includes nourishing your body when you feel hungry and stopping when you are full. Although, this is easier said than done. The best place to start is with our first tip. When you show up to your meals hungry but not ravenous, listening to these cues becomes a lot easier. Try your best to eat without distractions and to really enjoy the food on your plate. Consider the textures, smells, flavours and even colours. Lastly, check in with yourself every so often and ask yourself if you are full. Intuitive eating takes practice but it is never too late to start trying some of these tips.
Like listening to your hunger and fullness cues, it is also important to listen to your cravings. You do not need to avoid cravings or restrict yourself from eating those holiday cookies. Often this will only make your cravings stronger and harder to curb. When we avoid foods, our brain goes into a deprivation mindset. When we finally do have that food, we tend to eat more of it than we would have otherwise. Thus, give yourself permission to enjoy the foods you love and crave, without the guilt.
On the same note, remember that the holidays only come around once a year. With this, a lot of the foods we enjoy around the holidays may also only come around once a year. This can make intuitive eating a challenge as we may feel the need to try EVERYTHING that we see. Try your best to listen to your cravings and your hunger cues at your meals. Also, consider asking to bring some home to have another day. This way, you are able to try the foods you want without ignoring your body cues and may even prevent some food waste along the way.
Many of us are off of our routines around this time of year. We can be very busy and may be staying with family or friends making exercising a challenge. If this makes you uneasy, try practicing joyful movement and listening to your body. Remember that the holidays are a great time to catch up on some needed rest and taking a break from the gym might be just what your body needs. On the flip side, if your body is craving movement, allow yourself to move if you can. Remember that all movement counts. So, if you go on a family walk, go ice skating, or are dancing to your favourite holiday tunes, this DOES count as moving your body in a positive and productive way.
New Year’s resolutions can be great but they don’t have to involve restrictive diets or unrealistic weight loss goals. Having plans to completely cut out the “junk food” January first only creates a “last supper” mentality. We may overeat at holiday celebrations as we feel as though this is our last chance to eat the delicious foods we love. Again, we may feel unwell or guilty after these moments. Instead, avoid New Year’s goals that are restrictive or even ones related to food at all. If you are looking to make a dietary change, consider speaking with a dietitian who can help you implement positive and sustainable changes.
The holidays are meant to be an enjoyable and relaxing time. Listen to your body and embrace intuitive eating this holiday season and into the new year. If you feel like you need support during the holidays or are looking to start your intuitive eating journey, see our services HERE.