If you have a history of dieting, disordered eating, or an eating disorder, the holiday season can feel daunting instead of exciting. What if instead of dreading it, you were able to celebrate and be mindful?

One way to help make the holiday season easier, is to use the principles of Intuitive Eating. Here are some of the principles of Intuitive Eating, and how they can be applied during this time of year!

  • Reject the Diet Mentality. Does your family like to discuss diet fads around the dinner table? Is your aunt encouraging you to get seconds of the casserole she made, but then talking about the weight change she has observed in a friend? These mixed messages can be very triggering. What if you suggest to your family and friends before the meal that diet talk be off limits? Can you come to the table with more interesting topics?
  • Honor Your Hunger. An important way to honor your hunger during a holiday meal, is to follow your meal plan. This means that you eat a breakfast that includes carbohydrates, fat, and protein, rather than “saving up” for dinner. By not skipping meals before your holiday meal, you will keep your hunger cues in the “safe” zone. If you skip meals instead, you will arrive at the table ravenous, which will make it harder to be mindful.
  • Make Peace with Food. Eating disorders often cause an “All or Nothing” mentality around food; you may have labeled some food as “forbidden.” What if instead of telling yourself that certain foods are off limits, you give yourself unconditional permission to eat? By giving yourself permission to eat the foods that you want at a holiday party, it will give your mind the chance to engage in conversation and connection. Depriving yourself will lead to uncontrollable cravings and can lead to a binge once you finally “give in.” Plan to include the foods you crave on your plate!
  • Challenge the Food Police. Plan to scream “no” to the part of your brain that is telling you that you are “good” or “bad” for the food you serve yourself at a gathering. Food has no moral value!
  • Discover the Satisfaction Factor. Seek a pleasurable eating experience. Connect with your friends and family. Choose the foods that you enjoy. Eating what you really want (and not what your eating disorder says you should have) will help you to feel satisfied and content.
  • Feel Your Fullness. While a goal of intuitive eating is to eat to a comfortable level on the hunger and fullness scale (around a 7,) remember that part of normal eating, is sometimes eating more than you are hungry for, and trusting that your body can handle it. You have not failed at intuitive eating if you eat past a comfortable fullness at a holiday feast. The spread of food is only prepared once a year- so enjoy it! Don’t think of the Hunger and Fullness scale as “the Hunger and Fullness Diet.”