Nutrition News to Help You Be Well and Live Well
As we move into the holiday season (with celebrations that tend to center around food), does the thought of how you will manage your eating and weight during this time create a source of anxiety for you? In this month’s newsletter, we will apply the principles of Intuitive Eating (a non-diet approach to weight management) to managing food and eating around the holidays. The holidays are a time to count our many blessings, and to come together with family and friends–don’t let worries about eating and weight put a damper on your spirit and your ability to have an attitude of gratitude. Let’s give thanks!
In good health,
Sally Stegemann MS, RD, LD
Intuitive Eating for the Holidays
By Sally Stegemann, MS, RD, LD
The Intuitive Eating model was first developed by registered dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch as a non-dieting approach to weight loss. Over the years since the first book was published, there have been more than one hundred research studies showing benefits of this type of model. To learn more about the Intuitive Eating method, visit http://www.intuitiveeating.org/ Below, we will outline the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating and how those principles can be applied to managing eating during the holiday season.
- Reject the Diet Mentality: When you’re stuck in a dieting mentality, you may look at special occasions, such as Thanksgiving dinner, through a “Last Supper” lens. You may tell yourself that after your big meal on Thanksgiving, you’ll start the diet the next day. That way of thinking can lead to overeating, which in turn can cause feelings of guilt which tends to fuel the never-ending cycle of yo-yo dieting for weight loss, rebound eating, and weight regain.
- Honor Your Hunger: On the day of the big holiday feast, don’t try and hold out and do all of your eating in just one sitting. For some people, this may not cause a problem. But for others, holding out and not eating until the evening of Thanksgiving dinner can cause such intense hunger that you find yourself overindulging at that meal, and consuming more food than you would have if you had mostly maintained your normal eating schedule that day.
- Make Peace with Food: Give yourself permission to eat. Let go of the idea of “forbidden” foods. If pumpkin pie is one of your “forbidden” foods for example, and it’s something you only let yourself eat on Thanksgiving, you are more likely to overeat pie because you have told yourself that is your only opportunity to have that particular food. ,
- Challenge the Food Police: Get rid of the “good food/bad food” thoughts or the “I’m good/not good if I eat/don’t eat this or that food.” All foods can fit into a healthful lifestyle. It’s the big picture that matters, not a single day or meal.
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor: When you don’t allow yourself to eat the food that you really want, you may find yourself trying to fill up on other “healthier” foods, but with the risk of actually eating more than you would have if you had allowed yourself to eat what you really desired in the first place.
- Feel Your Fullness: Pause, take sips of water with your meal–allow yourself to feel your body’s natural signals that you are satisfied and have had enough to eat. You will recognize them when you’re paying attention and practice doing this at each mealtime.
- Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness: Stress and anxiety can sometimes accompany the holiday season, but realizing that food may temporarily ease those emotions instead of alleviating them, is a major key to Intuitive Eating. Striking a balance between not depriving yourself of food, while not using food as a constant escape from emotions can take time and patience.
- Respect Your Body: Break the habit of comparing your body to other relatives or friends at holiday gatherings. We each have a genetic blueprint for a body type, whether it be curvy on the top, curvy on the bottom, straight up-and-down, etc. Realize that your body deserves to be cared for just the way it is.
- Movement: Feel the Difference: Many people struggle with exercise because it can feel militant. Move your body in ways that are enjoyable to you; that doesn’t have to mean going to the gym. As far as applying this principle to the holidays, try taking a walk after your meal (just bring layers to bundle up if it’s cold!) Getting outdoors is a great stress reliever (and an opportunity to get away from those certain relatives you might need a break from), and walking after a meal helps to bring down blood sugar levels. Don’t use exercise as a “punishment” to burn off those extra calories by torturing yourself at the gym the next day. It only makes exercise that much less desirable to keep up in the long run.
- Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition: Nobody is perfect, just as there is no perfect diet. Allow yourself to eat foods you enjoy, while making gradual changes in areas where you may need improvement. If your goal is to eat more vegetables, work into it gradually by experimenting with new recipes that help you to enjoy the taste of vegetables. While nutrition is so important to the quality of our lives, so is joy. To quote another dietitian who has done amazing work in the field over many years, “When the joy goes out of eating, nutrition suffers” (Ellyn Satter).
Here’s to happy holidays, here’s to your health!
Cranberry Nut Bread makes a delicious light breakfast or snack on the big feast day. Find the recipe from Once Upon a Chef here: https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/cranberry-nut-bread.html
I like to substitute half of the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat flour for added nutrients and fiber.