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Intuitive Eating Over the Holidays

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

Written by Emily MacEachern, Dietetic Intern

Intuitive eating is a non-dieting approach to food that involves listening to your body's hunger and fullness cues rather than following any food rules or restrictions. This style of eating has been shown to improve both physical and mental health, as well as relationships with food.

Below are four ways that you can use the principles of intuitive eating to help you to better enjoy the holidays and be more present with family and friends:

1. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat: The holidays only come once a year and represent a short window of time when compared to the rest of the year. Instead of trying to avoid eating “unhealthy” foods, allow yourself to eat and enjoy the foods that you want. In doing so, you can prevent the uncontrollable cravings that come with restricting, as well as the feelings of guilt and shame that follow when we “cave”.

2. Honour your hunger: The holidays can be especially busy with planning family visits and other holiday activities. It’s easy to get wrapped up and forget to eat. Make sure to check in with your hunger throughout the day and eat as regularly as you can. If you’re short on time, try keeping some snacks or quick meals on hand like hummus and crackers, soups, or ingredients for sandwiches to make regular eating more attainable.

3. Feel your fullness: It can be easy to eat past fullness when you’re surrounded by food, and that is ok (see point 1)! But it can also be good to check in with yourself midway through eating to see how full you feel and if you're still enjoying your meal. If you find that you're past comfortable fullness or you’re not enjoying it anymore, you may decide to put it away for later when you can enjoy it again.

4. Discover the satisfaction factor in your holiday meals: The holidays are one of the few times a year when you may be surrounded by lots of delicious meals, desserts, and famous family recipes. Allow yourself the pleasure of eating the foods made by friends and family by taking the time to savour each bite.

Consider these principles this holiday season! For more information and resources on intuitive eating, check out IntuitiveEating.Org.

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