The holidays can feel really anxious for those who struggle with food. I?m going to paint some broad strokes in this blog post, and hopefully it gets you thinking about how to best support yourself the next few months. I'm placing extra emphasis on the key points by putting them in all caps. I'm not yelling at you, just making strong recommendations. Well except for the first one, I am yelling that.
Ultimately, the overall objective would be to learn and practice how to avoid the all-or-nothing mindset with food during the holidays and beyond. In my mind, there are two main principles for doing so:
Let?s elaborate with a few key points about those:
If you know that a diet, restriction or deprivation is around the corner, it will influence how you behave around food. If January 1st is named the day you?ll start a diet, you?re going to throw all caution to the wind over the holidays. Might as well enjoy yourself before the suffering begins, right? SO DON'T MAKE PLANS TO DIET ON JANUARY 1st.
The good news is that you can enjoy satisfying foods any day of the year, so there is no need to get it all right now. Eating for the intent to feel satisfied is your key, especially since overeating or under eating are not satisfying (more like uncomfortable or painful).
That is probably the hardest concept of Intuitive Eating to grasp. For so long you?ve likely had a system of checks and balances. In other words, eating has been conditional. ?I can eat that if I run an extra few miles tomorrow?. ?I can have that but only on my cheat day.? ?If I eat that, I can?t eat later.? And so on.
It can feel really rebellious and wrong to allow yourself ice cream for no other reason than it?s a Wednesday afternoon and it sounds good. The worry is that once you do you?ll lose control. However, controlling food is actually a false sense of control. The food is controlling you, not the other way around.
I find it helpful to liken this to work and play. If you were to work all the time, not matter how much you love your work, how would you feel? Likely burnt out, resentful, exhausted and ready for a break. If you were to play all the time, how would you feel? Likely ready for some productivity, organization and a schedule. We all have experience with knowing what we need in that regard. It?s a natural ebb and flow and if we are listening to and meeting our needs, we allow ourselves a balance of productivity and rest.
The same could be said for food. Depending on the day, different foods can and will be nourishing and satisfying. That grey area can be uncomfortable, but it allows us to live a much more flexible and nourishing life. I encourage you to think about what you need and trust that it all balances out. TRUST THAT YOUR BODY CAN BE TRUSTED.
Eating in the absence of physical hunger happens occasionally. No big deal. But in general, hunger makes food taste better. You get a lot more enjoyment out of food if you really need it. My favorite quote from Intuitive Eating is: "If you don't love it, don't eat it, and if you do love it, savor it." YOU GET TO OWN YOUR CHOICES.
I wish you the happiest holidays!
Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD