How To Practice Intuitive Eating This Holiday Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year–but it doesn’t come without some stress. 

The holidays often bring with them a flurry of parties, gatherings, and meals, filled with delicious seasonal treats. Oftentimes, it can feel like we are indulging ourselves a little too much, leading to bloating, discomfort and, maybe worst of all, guilt. Throw in the “My Diet Starts Next Year” mentality, and we’re looking at two months of “meh” around food. 

Is there any way to break the cycle? 

Maybe so. We talked to Dani McAdoo, a Registered Dietitian at Doherty Nutrition, about intuitive eating, a way of thinking about food that takes calories off the table and puts mind and body front and center. She breaks down how to start practicing intuitive eating, as well as how we can begin folding it into our lives during the holidays. 

Let’s start off pretty simple–what is intuitive eating? 

Intuitive eating is an evidence-based, weight-neutral framework that was originally founded by two dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995. It’s also not just another fad diet! PHEW. It is a journey of re-establishing your relationship with food through a mind-body experience. Throughout this process, one learns how to trust their internal hunger and satiety cues.

What does this process look like?

Intuitive eating has ten basic principles: 

  1. Reject Diet Mentality
  2. Honor Your Hunger
  3. Make Peace with Food
  4. Challenge the Food Police
  5. Respect Your Fullness
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
  8. Respect Your Body
  9. Exercise (Feel the Difference)
  10. Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition

What are some of the benefits of intuitive eating? 

There are so many amazing psychological and physical benefits to intuitive eating. Some of my favorites include: 

  • Finding food freedom – no longer feeling guilt and shame around “forbidden foods”
  • Ditching the diet mentality – bye-bye counting points and calories
  • Decreased rates of disordered eating, eating disorders, and weight cycling 
  • Improved quality of life
  • No longer obsessing over food
  • Improved body image and self-esteem. 

And those are only a few good things about it! 

The holidays are often considered to be a time of “gluttony,” followed by a time of dieting come the new year. How can we break this cycle? 

The holidays can be overwhelming, especially when you’re surrounded by lots of yummy, indulgent foods! I would start by looking at foods in a more neutral light. It is important to find balance during the holidays–you’re allowed to indulge in some of your favorite goodies while also honoring your body’s hunger and fullness cues.

Do you have any tips on how we can eat intuitively this time of year? 

Here is what I would suggest, for starters: 

  1. Try to get rid of the “good” and “bad” food mentality, because, let’s face it, food has no moral responsibilities.
  2. Check in with your hunger and fullness cues regularly.
  3. Eat slowly and pay attention to the sensory details of the food such as the smell, taste, texture, flavor, etc.
  4. Stick to your normal eating schedule, even if you’re anticipating a larger meal that day (cough, cough- Thanksgiving!).
  5. Find time to move your body in a way that makes you feel energized!
  6. Research shows that dieting and restricting certain foods, only leads to bingeing on those foods later. Instead, try to implement mindful, positive behaviors around eating this holiday season, and put your blinders up to fad diets in the new year!

What kind of food are you making this time of year? 

I love this Walnut Rosemary Salmon recipe, which is both super balanced and super satisfying. Plus, you can also incorporate fresh herbs straight from the garden! 

OK, we’re sold. How do we start practicing intuitive eating? 

You can start by reading the Intuitive Eating Workbook or make an appointment with a dietitian at Doherty Nutrition!