Hi, I'm Brittany! I'm a Registered Dietitian and sports nutrition specialist and I LOVE helping women ditch the food guilt for good, fuel for their best lives, and become comfortable in their own skin. I'm so glad you are here!
Though the holiday season is supposed to be filled with joy and cheer, it can undoubtedly be a source of stress for many, especially when you are trying to navigate an Intuitive Eating journey. If you have a history of dieting, feasts and gatherings may be even more difficult.
Maybe you are surrounded by family members who make comments about having to burn off all their Thanksgiving food, or mention that you shouldn’t eat all day to save room for the plethora of calories at dinner! Maybe it’s tough for you being around delicacies prepared by other people and not being able to read a food label for the nutrition facts. New and different foods may trigger unpleasant thoughts to resurface that you were convinced were gone for good. On top of all of this, there is social pressure to begin a New Year’s Resolution, and perhaps these overwhelming thoughts are pushing you towards dieting again.
If you need help navigating your Intuitive Eating journey this holiday season, we are here to help. Check out our tips below for an enjoyable and intuitive holiday season!
Practical Eating Tips
Eat a balanced breakfast You may be thinking it’s a better idea to hold off until that huge lunch or dinner, but try starting your day like you always do. Find consistency in beginning your day with a satisfying breakfast and remove some of the anticipation from the feast.
Don’t skip meals or restrict for the “big meal” of the day It can be tempting to try to cut back on calories the days leading up to Thanksgiving or Christmas, but your body NEEDS to eat and be fueled despite what social media says. Pay attention to your hunger cues during regular meals and honor your feelings of hunger and fullness as best you can.
Stock up on convenient, satisfying, nutrient-dense foods The holiday season tends to lead to a disruption of our typical routine. With all of the events, visitors and social plans that pop up, it’s not uncommon to be less prepared for easy, nutritious meals at home than you typically might be. Try to keep some pre-cooked or frozen meats, microwavable starches and pre-chopped veggies ready in the fridge to make assembling a satisfying meal as easy as possible.
Give yourself unconditional permission to eat If you’re constantly thinking about the foods that you “can’t” have, you will want those even more — and that heightened anticipation for a particular food can set you up for a mental tug-of-war once it’s around. Try your best to grant yourself permission to eat ALL foods this holiday season, while also prioritizing eating in a way that helps you feel energized and satisfied. Don’t miss out on a delicious piece of cake/pie/your favorite thing just because of a precarious food rule!
Keep a gratitude journal Use this journal to outline the things you are thankful for and reframe your negative thoughts into positive ones! Even if you’ve had a rough year, think about the little things that went well or you enjoyed 🙂
Set boundaries The holiday season is a great time to practice boundary setting with friends and family members. If you have been making progress with your food rules, but feel like you may experience a set-back due to a negative comment at the dinner table– feel free to excuse yourself, change the topic, or use the opportunity to challenge the food police in a loving way.
Body Image Tips
Get rid of the scale It can be so tempting to step on the scale and see how much your weight fluctuates after a huge meal, but please resist this urge! Weight is not a true indicator of health or happiness. Toss it out to keep it from putting a damper on your holiday season.
Have comfortable clothes ready On days where you wake up bloated, or eat past comfortable fullness, negative body image thoughts may start to pop up. If they do, reaching for comfortable loose-fitting clothing to take your immediate thoughts off of your body can be a really useful way to move past the negative state. If you have not cleaned out your closet in a while and know you have clothes that are *way* to big or small, now might be time to donate some things, too. Having clothes that you love and that fit your current body is a great way to support positive body image!
Limit your time on social media Social media definitely has its upsides, but it can also become a comparison trap very quickly. Depending on the people you follow, you may see a lot of “tips to burn off holiday calories” or “healthy alternatives to Thanksgiving foods”, which might make you feel like you’re doing something wrong! Put the phone down, go for a walk outside, read a book, take a hot bath, or however you can best relax. Additionally, when you are in the right mindset to scroll, take a moment to notice whose posts make you feel negatively about yourself – then utilize those “mute” or “unfollow” buttons!
A Few Final Thoughts
While we’ve talked about food quite a lot in this post, remember that your health is impacted by SO many other things besides food. As humans, we crave connection with others and having a strong support system is crucial to your well-being. Find ways to connect intentionally with friends and loved ones, even if it’s only via phone calls or FaceTime. You can also recharge and support your well-being by prioritizing rest, getting out in nature and moving your body regularly.
We know that working through your relationship with food can be intimidating and that it requires a lot of work. When things get tough or you are tempted to go back to dieting because it feels “easier”, try to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday season for you. Is this a time that you can spend with loved ones, or travel somewhere beautiful? Reconnecting with your purpose and what you want the holidays to feel like can give you that extra motivation you may need to work through your relationship with food. When you do, you’ll realize that counting calories and stressing over side dishes don’t have to get in the way of what is most important to you at the holidays — and that is an incredible feeling!
So … Where Do We Go From Here?
We are genuinely so happy to know that you are taking strides in your Intuitive Eating journey – whether you are well on your way or just starting to explore what food freedom looks like, thank you for being here! It is our hope that as you practice your Intuitive Eating skills, you will continue to become more aware of diet-culture, and less susceptible to the “New Year, New Me” diet traps. If you are worried about the New Year, we got you — check out this blog post about our Top Reasons Not Start a Diet in January (we originally wrote it for our athletes, BUT it has some great nuggets that we can all learn from).
Finally, if you’re ready to take your food freedom process to the next level, here are some next steps that we recommend!