7 Ways to Survive the Holidays Using an Intuitive Eating Mindset

So, you’ve been working on healing your relationship with food, and you’re familiar with the intuitive eating principles - then wham! The holidays hit you right in the face.

Enjoying the abundance of food centered holiday celebrations can be tough, especially if you’ve struggled with an eating disorder, emotional eating or have gotten caught up in the dieting > restrictive eating cycle before. Any sort of real or perceived overindulgence can lead to feelings of guilt or shame, which can only lead to more stress eating, restricting or unhealthy dieting tactics. So how can we approach the season without getting too caught up in the food?

We’ve all experienced it...you deny yourself your favorite foods and you end up craving them more, often overeating them when you do. This in turn leads to the stress and guilt that we so often associate with eating these “forbidden foods.” Ridding ourselves of the diet mentality and instead granting ourselves unconditional permission (not just physical permission; emotional, too) can lead to increased satisfaction and enjoyment around food. Going into the holidays with an intuitive eating mindset can help you avoid the dieting roller coaster and can help keep you in a more forgiving space with food and body. In turn, this will help decrease stress, keep your mood stable and even prevent food cravings. Winning!  

Here are seven ways to survive the holidays using an Intuitive Eating mindset:

  1. Give yourself permission.

    • For many, this is a huge step. If you have the capacity to do so, permission can be a powerful and liberating thing

    • Give yourself permission to have the foods you love, and leave behind the ones you don’t

    • Give yourself permission to rest (or exercise if you are craving movement!)

    • Our answer to the question, “Can I eat that??” is always,  “YES!” More on that in a blog we wrote here.

  2. Write in a gratitude journal

    Pause for a few minutes each day to think about what it it is you’re grateful for. Taking these few moments to slow your busy brain and help you to shift your focus to what you are truly thankful for

  3. Revisit your values. Are your actions aligning with your values?

    • Some examples of values: adventure, affection, boldness, happiness, love, enjoyment, creativity, concern for others, faith, family, learning, flexibility, friendship, growth, pleasure

    • Identify the things that you value; now how can you live out those values?

  4. Set an intention for the holiday (what do you want to get out of it?)

    • Some examples:

      1. I will be present and in the moment with my loved ones

      2. I will make time for myself, even if only for a few minutes

      3. I will take what I need, and leave what I don’t

      4. I will practice self compassion

      5. I will allow myself to experience pleasure (including from food) without judgement

      6. I will practice self care each day

      7. I will nourish myself with satisfying meals and snacks

  5. Realize that normal eating is fluid- there is an ebb and a flow to it

    • This means that our bodies are very resilient and can handle fluctuations in our eating!

    • A single meal or a day (or week) of eating more indulgent foods and not being in our usual workout routine is not going to make a difference in your weight or fitness in the long run!

  6. Resist the temptation to restrict leading up to the holidays OR after as a means of “repenting”

    • Even the mere thought or consideration of restricting is enough for us to overeat during the “main event”

    • When our bodies feel the threat of scarcity (i.e. starvation from a evolutionary perspective)- even if that is in the form of intentional restriction- our bodies will look to protect us through eating more to compensate

  7. Remember: our societal fear of weight gain (i.e fatphobia) is a product of the diet industry trying to sell us weight loss programs after the holidays

    • On average, we don’t put on nearly as much weight as the news articles and magazines will have us believe, and the majority of the 1-2 pounds we might “gain” is in the form of fluid shifts (our body uses water to store any surplus of energy)

    • You can choose to go against the status quo and reject the diet mentality!

If navigating food around the holidays has been problematic in the past, I want you to know that you are not alone. Diet culture has robbed us of being able to enjoy the holidays, instead making us feel bogged down with stress and worry about food. Here’s to using an intuitive eating mindset to help you take back the enjoyment of the holidays. You are so worth it!


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We're a group of non-diet, balance seeking, food loving, health at every size practicing, Registered Dietitians. 
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