Posted on November 8th, 2021by Dara Godfrey, RDin Nutrition

Intuitive Eating In Time for the Holidays

As the holiday season is quickly approaching, it’s the time of the year where we are faced with a bounty of rich, hearty, seasonal treats and comfort foods that are frequently overeaten during countless celebrations. And when January 1st hits, it is tempting to turn to the latest fad diet that promotes restriction and deprivation in the false hope of losing weight quickly, permanently, and in a ‘healthy’ manner. But is all of this diet culture just making us sick? Is there a more mindful approach to health and wellbeing?

The origins of the term intuitive eating date back to the 90’s when two Californian dietitians, Evelyn Trioble and Elyse Resch wrote their first edition of their book Intuitive Eating: A Recovery Book for the Chronic Dieter; Rediscover the Pleasures of Eating and Rebuild Your Body Image. Their philosophy revolves around the concept that humans innately have the knowledge and awareness of what foods they should eat and what eating habits best support their individual needs. Rather than focusing on diets and restriction, guilt and shame, intuitive eating helps people learn and get in tune with their personal needs and literally (and figuratively) listen to their gut.

Some basic principles from this intuitive eating approach:

  • REJECT THE DIET MENTALITY
    Get rid of the diet culture that claims we are ‘good’ for eating what’s deemed ‘healthy’ and ‘bad’ for eating supposed indulgent, caloric foods. Diets are ‘temporary’ crash courses that fail and are not lifestyle choices.

  • HONOR YOUR HUNGER & FEEL YOUR FULLNESS
    What is beautiful about this approach to eating is that it shuns deprivation and helps us re-connect with our own hunger and fullness cues. Being in tune with our hunger and fullness means eating when we’re hungry and listening to our body’s signals when we feel satisfied, not when we are full.

    • Going too long in between meals makes us more likely to overeat and become less mindful of what to eat. Eating a combination of protein paired with a carbohydrate every 3-4 hours can help alleviate the ‘hangry’ feeling that can lead to impulsivity and ultimately mindless eating.
    • Slowing down and being more thoughtful of our hunger and fullness levels (take at least 15-20 minutes).
  • MAKE PEACE WITH FOOD
    When we feel ready, adding in foods that we previously deemed as ‘bad’ or ‘scary’ foods can be slowly added back. This approach values taking risks and learning from challenging moments or situations.

  • CHALLENGE THE FOOD POLICE & COPE WITH EMOTIONS WITH KINDNESS

    • Question our past thoughts and beliefs that are not serving us anymore. How about asking ourselves: ‘Is this belief true?’
    • Steering away from guilt and shame of what we ate that day and move towards reflection and having grace for eating situations that were challenging. Speaking kindly to ourselves by practicing positive talk. Consider ending our day with kind reflection on some positive eating habits we used and review how our bodies felt that day.
    • Acknowledge how grateful we are for the food that’s in front of us.
  • DISCOVER THE SATISFACTION FACTOR

    • Include satisfying foods and experiences that are pleasurable to help lower the chances of binge episodes. It can be easy to resist those pleasurable feelings if we deem them ‘bad’ for us. It is not selfish to find satisfaction in eating.
  • RESPECT YOUR BODY & MOVE (TO FEEL THE DIFFERENCE)

    • Learn to love and accept our bodies and ultimately healing our body image distortions and expectations from society.
    • Listen to what our bodies need when it comes to movement and using it to help manage stress and anxiety rather than using it as another form of potential addiction/purging behavior.
  • HONOR YOUR HEALTH

    • Move away from food and eating rigidity to instinctual eating and listening to what our bodies need…ALL of the macronutrients (protein, essential fat, carbohydrates) and ultimately to a variety of foods.

These intuitive eating principles take time to learn and accomplish. Acknowledge that it may be challenging and that it is alright to reach out for support and guidance along the way. By eating mindfully and ditching the diet culture, we can all live a more healing, liberated, body positive life.

For more information on this topic, please visit: intuitiveeating.org

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