And just like that, the holidays are creeping upon us. Gift shopping, company preparation, menu planning, holiday decorating… it seems like this time of year always comes up so fast! While planning for these holidays can be stressful, it is a time to slow down, be grateful, and embrace the special moments with family and friends.
This month I want to talk about releasing the pressure of staying on track with your health and wellness goals during the holiday season. It’s not to say to jump off the bandwagon and fall into unhealthy habits for the next two months. It is a friendly reminder that you can still enjoy all the yummy holiday treats AND nourish yourself! Give yourself grace. Food is only one part of our lives. Enjoy it.
Here are some tips for eating intuitively during the holiday season:
- Repeat: “I do not have to earn my calories by working out.” Calories in DO NOT equal calories out. Drop the number and recognize that calories are energy. Food is fuel. Movement is meant to ease stress, support immunity, and help us feel strong. The minute you start viewing movement as a punishment because you ate, you slip into a toxic relationship with your health.
- Follow your hunger cues. Tuning into our hunger cues is beneficial for our overall health. We have hunger and fullness cues for a reason. Think of it this way: When you’re sleepy, you need a nap, when you’re mouth is dry, you’re thirsty, when you’re hungry, you NEED food! These cues can vary daily depending on different factors (amount of sleep, physical activity, stress, hormonal changes, environmental factors). Listening to your hunger and fullness cues can help you appropriately respond to these changing needs. Hunger is not only felt with a grumbling stomach. It can be shown through shakiness, irritability, brain fog, fixating on food, headache, etc. Evaluate your body signs and respond. One way you could reconnect to your hunger cues is by feeding your body adequately throughout the day. As a general guideline (not a rule), this means eating a nutrient-dense meal or snack every 3-4 hours. This hunger/fullness scale is a great tool for checking in with these cues.
- Always build your plate using protein, carbs, and fat. We gain more energy and are more satisfied when we eat our macronutrients together. Nutrients do not work in isolation. They work synergistically to enhance the quality of each other. Here is a core focus: Carb: brightly colored vegetables. Fat: olive oil, avocado, hemp seeds, wild-caught fish, nuts, etc. Protein: a variety of animal and plant-based proteins is essential.
- Refrain from “detoxing.” You’re allowed to eat fun foods! Do not label food items as “good” or “bad.” So, you had a night where you ate more than you usually would. No problem. You’re not going to restrict food and over-exercise in this situation. You’re going to nourish your body with nutrient-dense meals and hydrate adequately. I promise your body knows what it needs to do. Detoxification is the way the body heals and repairs itself. It has an internal cleansing process that takes place continuously and naturally. It does its heaviest detoxing while we sleep because detoxification is a parasympathetic process. If we are in sympathetic overdrive, detoxing doesn’t take place how it should. Along with proper nutritional support and daily movement, detoxing can happen properly.
Intuitive eating is not a diet mentality. It encourages us to heal our relationship with food and lovingly reconnect to our bodies. You can gain freedom, inner peace, mental clarity, and optimal health by applying intuitive eating concepts. Use these tips as a guide beyond the holiday season. If you have any questions or want to learn more, email me!