How to Enjoy Holiday Meals with Less Stress
The holidays, while joyful, can often be a source of stress for many, especially around food and fitness. A non-diet approach can help clients to make progress towards health goals while also feeling calm, present and able to live in the moment with loved ones.
Intuitive eating is a self-care model of eating that honors not just physical health, but also mental and emotional health. It was developed in 1995 by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, with a validated assessment scale and over 140 evidence-based studies to date (1). These tips can help clients, friends, family (and you!) to make the most out of this holiday season.
1. Avoid the diet mentality.
Aim to eat regular meals and snacks to help balance blood sugars, energy levels and mood. Skipping meals to "save calories," over exercising to "earn your food" and other restrictive behaviors will only leave you feeling deprived and more likely to overeat later in the day.
2. Remember it's okay to say no.
If you identify feelings of fullness, recognize that it is okay to honor these physical feelings, and deny pressure for seconds from others. Helpful responses might include, “No thanks, but can I have the recipe?” or, “I would love to take home leftovers to enjoy when I’m not so full!”
3. Choose foods that satisfy.
When you allow yourself to eat the foods you enjoy, you will be more likely to eat the amount you need. Consider different textures, flavors and dishes that hold sentimental value as well. All of these contribute to a more positive eating experience.
4. Practice mindful eating.
Using the five senses while eating can also help you to pay attention, further enhancing the eating experience. The visual appeal, the aromas and the awareness can help contribute to feeling present and in the moment (2).
5. Move in a way that feels good.
The holiday season might bring changes in schedules and routines, making it hard to stick to any type of plan. Embrace this and aim to move in a way that feels good. That might look like taking more steps/walking laps at the airport or trying a new fitness class with a family member. Aim for increased physical activity and worry less about structured exercise.
6. Treat yourself with kindness.
Health and longevity in life require looking at the total picture of wellness including not just your physical health, but also your mental, emotional, spiritual health and more. Remember, all foods can be part of a healthy diet without guilt and shame!
If you are looking for more support for yourself or clients throughout the holidays, consider working with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Practicing intuitive eating and a non-diet approach will contribute to your health through the holidays and beyond!
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Katie Hake RDN, LD, ACSM-CPT, is a Registered Dietitian and Fitness Professional with a passion for helping women to stop dieting and start living. She works with women to eliminate the rigid, all-or-nothing mindset and replace it with one that celebrates life’s small wins to let them grow. Through both nutrition and fitness coaching, she empowers women to become the expert of their own bodies. She is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor and has a virtual practice based out of Indianapolis, Indiana. You can find out more about her at www.katiehake.com or by subscribing to the Fit Friends Happy Hour Podcast, which she hosts.
1. 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating [cited 2021 Nov 16].
2. Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat [cited 2021 Nov 16].