The holidays can be a joyous time spent with family and friends, and it can also be challenging in different ways. Many holiday traditions involve gathering around the table with loved ones to share a meal, and sometimes, unfortunately, diet culture finds a seat at the table. Noisy chatter from this guest can make it difficult to hear the voice of your intuitive eater. Below are some tips to help you drown out that diet culture voice and honor your intuitive eater this holiday season.
1. Fuel your body with balanced meals and snacks throughout the day.
Even if you have a holiday gathering to attend, the body and brain need adequate nourishment throughout the day to function well. Not eating enough throughout the day before a holiday meal can result in preoccupation with food, extreme hunger, mood swings, and decreased energy and focus. All of which can impede your ability to be present and enjoy that time with family or friends. And don’t forget that your body needs nourishment the day after that holiday gathering as well.
Aim to include sources of carbohydrate, protein, and fat at each meal to nourish your body. If you are unsure how to create balanced meals and snacks for yourself, find an intuitive eating dietitian that can support and guide you.
2. Remember that holiday fun foods can be enjoyed anytime!
Giving yourself permission to enjoy the traditional “holiday” fun foods you love at any time of year, keeps you out of the “last supper” mentality. If you feel like this is the only time you are allowed to have particular foods, you can set yourself up to consume those foods in a way that feels out of control. Remind yourself that you can enjoy these foods now and also any time of the year.
3. Tune into your hunger and fullness cues with kind curiosity.
If you have learned to notice and understand your hunger and fullness cues, set the intention to tune into those periodically throughout the holidays.
There may be times that you eat past comfortable fullness at a meal, and that diet culture voice might want to respond with shaming self-talk. If you eat past comfortable fullness, use that moment as an opportunity to learn more about your intuitive eater. Instead of talking to yourself negatively, try responding to yourself with kind curiosity. Simply reflect and notice how you feel and what may have contributed to eating to that point of fullness. Remember that intuitive eating is not perfect eating.
Sometimes you may notice physical hunger before the intended time of the meal. Diet culture might say, “Don’t ruin your appetite by eating a snack.” Honor your body’s hunger by grabbing a snack to keep that hunger from turning into “hangry” before the meal. Keeping an emergency snack on hand, like trail mix or a granola bar, can be helpful in a pinch if the host is not serving snacks or appetizers.
4. Have a plan for how you want to respond to diet talk.
Thinking ahead about how you might encounter comments about your eating or body or dieting can help you prepare how you want to respond. It’s okay to speak up and say, “Can we change the subject?” or “Please don’t make comments about my food or body.” or “I’m listening to my intuitive eater.”
So, leave diet culture off the guest list and invite your intuitive eater to enjoy the holiday season with you!
By Julie Mason RD/LDN