The holiday season is here. It’s a time for holiday parties, delicious sweets, and family gatherings. However, it can also be a season filled with stress and guilt about food choices. Let’s explore the concept of intuitive eating and how it can help you navigate the holidays with a mindset shift, enabling you to enjoy the season to the fullest without compromising your well-being.

During the holiday season, there is a desire to enjoy festive treats, but there’s can also be a lot of fear of of these foods and subsequent guilt. Many people fall into the trap of restrictive eating before and after holiday gatherings, leading to a cycle of deprivation and overconsumption. Intuitive eating offers a way out of this dilemma by helping you maintain a balanced approach to your holiday meals.

What is Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive eating is an approach to nourishment that promotes a healthy relationship with food. It’s about listening to your body’s cues and needs without adhering to strict diets or restrictions. Some of the core principles of intuitive eating include:

  1. Honor Your Hunger – Pay attention to your body’s hunger signals and respond to them with nourishing food.
  2. Reject the Diet Mentality – Focus on self-compassion and self-care instead of restriction. Let go of restrictive dieting and cultivate a positive relationship with food.
  3. Make Peace with Food – Give yourself permission to enjoy all foods without guilt.
  4. Challenge the Food Police – Silence the inner and outside critics and judgments about what you eat.
  5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor – Savor your food and find pleasure in eating. Find foods your enjoy!

Practical Tips for Intuitive Eating During the Holidays

  1. Plan Ahead – Before heading to holiday gatherings, eat balanced and satisfying meals or snacks leading up to the event. Also, if you are worried about potentially not eating anything at the gathering make sure to bring a dish that you can eat!
  2. Mindful Eating – Pay attention to the flavors, textures, and smells of the food you’re consuming when possible. Take your time and notice what you are doing.
  3. Enjoy the Moment – Focus on the social and emotional aspects of the holiday season, not just the food.
  4. Practice Self-Compassion – Be forgiving of yourself if something doesn’t go according to plan or you find yourself highly anxious. It takes time and patience to eat intuitively and there is no perfect way of eating.
  5. Avoid Food Policing – Don’t let others’ comments about food choices affect you. Politely set boundaries or change the subject. Try to stay in your own lane!

Creating a Balanced Holiday Plate

When filling your plate during holiday gatherings, try to:

  1. Include a variety of foods: Incorporate fruits, vegetables, proteins, and grains/starches along with your favorite holiday foods.
  2. Savor each bite: Take time to enjoy the flavors and textures of the food.
  3. Listen to your body: Eat when you are hungry.


This holiday season, make it a point to embrace intuitive eating. Allow yourself to enjoy the festivities and all the delicious foods they bring without falling into the trap of guilt or shame. By practicing intuitive eating, you can maintain a healthier and happier relationship with food while keeping the joy of the holidays. Wishing you a joyful and intuitive holiday season! Embrace the delicious moments, savor the flavors, and remember that you have the power to choose a healthier and happier relationship with food, no matter the time of year.

*Please note that not everybody may be ready to embrace or practice Intuitive Eating. If you are in the early stages of eating disorder recovery this is not the time and using your meal plan, guidance from your treatment team and support is vital!


Additional Resources

For further guidance on intuitive eating, consider reading books like “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Additionally, we can provide personalized support in your intuitive eating journey.


Contributed in part by Kim Dunaway, Dietetic Intern