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Intuitive Eating During the Holidays: A Beginner’s Guide

The festive season often brings a rollercoaster of emotions, especially for those mindful of their eating habits. The abundant spreads of tempting food can trigger bouts of anxiety and stress. However, embracing intuitive eating during the festive season can alleviate this tension, helping you find a harmonious balance with your food choices. This guide will help you navigate the principles of intuitive eating, particularly during the festive season.

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What is Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive Eating is a science-backed, health-oriented approach towards food and eating behaviour. It's about connecting with your body's innate signals – hunger, fullness, and satisfaction – while also considering your emotional responses to food.


The concept was introduced by two Registered Dietitians, Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole, in 1995 and has since been embraced by many as a healthier alternative to traditional dieting.


The Ten Principles of Intuitive Eating

The ten principles of Intuitive Eating serve as a roadmap, guiding you towards a healthier attitude towards food. They include:


1. Reject the Diet Mentality

This principle encourages the elimination of diet books, apps, and the notion of 'starting over' after indulging. It promotes the idea of breaking free from the cycle of dieting and restriction.


2. Honour Your Hunger

Learning to recognise and respond to your body's hunger cues is crucial. It's about feeding your body adequately and not ignoring the signals it's sending.


3. Make Peace with Food

Give yourself permission to eat what you want without guilt. This principle discourages seeing food as 'good' or 'bad' and aims to reduce cravings and feelings of deprivation.


4. Challenge the Food Police

This involves silencing the voice in your head that deems certain foods as off-limits and enforces guilt for indulging.


5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

Find joy in eating and let this guide your food choices. Eating should be a pleasurable experience, and finding satisfaction in meals can help reinforce healthier eating patterns.


6. Feel Your Fullness

Listening to your body's signals that it's comfortably full is crucial. It's about checking in with yourself during meals and recognising when you've had enough.


7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness

Emotional eating is a common coping mechanism for dealing with stress, anxiety, and other emotions. This principle encourages finding healthier ways to manage these feelings that don't involve turning to food.


8. Respect Your Body

Accepting your body as it is can lead to healthier attitudes towards food and eating. It's about rejecting diet culture's unrealistic standards and embracing your body's unique genetic blueprint.


9. Movement – Feel the Difference

Shifting the focus from exercise as a means to 'earn' food to finding joy in physical activity is what this principle is all about.


10. Honour Your Health – Gentle Nutrition

This principle promotes making food choices that are good for your health, but without judgment or guilt. It's about balance and flexibility, understanding that it's the overall food patterns that matter, not individual meals or snacks.


How to Implement Intuitive Eating During the Holidays

The festive season can pose challenges for intuitive eaters. However, there are strategies to navigate these challenges and maintain a healthy relationship with food. Here are some tips:


1. Do Not Restrict Yourself Beforehand

Avoid drastically cutting down on your food intake leading up to the holidays. This can lead to overeating and feelings of guilt. Instead, maintain your regular eating patterns.


2. Give Yourself Permission to Eat

Don't avoid your favourite holiday foods. Remember that no single meal or snack will significantly impact your health. It's about enjoying the food you love, mindfully and without guilt.


3. Pay Attention to Your Body's Cues

Holidays can be stressful, making it harder to tune into your body's cues. Try to stay aware of your hunger and fullness signals, eating in accordance with what your body is telling you.


4. Eat Consistent Meals and Snacks

Don't 'save up' for a big holiday meal. This can lead to overeating and feelings of discomfort. Ensure you're eating regular meals throughout the day.


5. Be Wary of the 'Last Supper Mentality'

Avoid the mindset of overindulging because you've already 'broken the rules'. This can lead to feelings of guilt and a cycle of restriction and overeating.


6. Set Boundaries

Navigating discussions about food, diet, and body image can be difficult during the holidays. Setting boundaries and steering conversations away from these topics can help ease holiday anxiety.


In Conclusion

Intuitive eating is an empowering approach to food and eating. By tuning into your body's signals and rejecting diet culture, you can enjoy the holiday season without the stress of food and eating. Trust your body, enjoy the food you love, and make peace with your eating habits this holiday season.

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