Three Easy Tips for Practicing Intuitive Eating. The holidays are a festive time of year when delicious food and drink take center stage. Thinking about overindulging might bring up feelings of anxiety or concern about gaining weight. Instead of obsessing about calories, carbs, or the latest fad diet, the nutrition expert at The Houstonian Club encourages her clients to listen to their bodies and practice intuitive eating.
Intuitive eating is a non-diet approach to health and wellness that helps you tune into your body signals, break the cycle of chronic dieting, and heal your relationship with food. From a nutrition professional perspective, intuitive eating is a framework that helps keep nutrition interventions behavior-focused instead of restrictive or rule-focused. “By listening to your body, you can enjoy food and drinks during the holidays without putting any extra stress on yourself,” says Denise Hernandez MS, RD, LD Nutritionist and Dietitian at The Houstonian Club. “I have many clients that restrict themselves or go on diets during the holidays, which causes a negative physical and psychological cycle. Intuitive eating allows you to rid yourself of that negative mindset.”
Hernandez shares three easy steps to practice intuitive eating this holiday season.
Reject a Diet Mentality
The first step to intuitive eating is to reject the notion that you must be on a diet in the first place, especially during the holidays. Intuitive eating principles start here because humans are biologically wired to combat starvation at the cellular level, and dieting is a form of starvation, even if voluntary.
Studies show that dieting increases cravings and chronic food restriction often leads to overeating. This cycle causes dieters to give in to cravings and eventually regain any weight they previously lost.
Holiday Pro Tip: Don’t put off healthy eating until the New Year. Instead, start now and pay close attention to your body’s cues of hunger and satiation.
Honor your Hunger
To honor your hunger is to take note of when your body is hungry and prevent excessive hunger. Ensure that you are eating regular meals (and snacks, if necessary).
Holiday Pro Tip: Keep convenient and healthy foods on hand for quick fueling when on the go or at home. Don’t let yourself get over hungry, which will cause you to overeat.
Make Peace with Food
When you rigidly restrict the amount of food you can eat, it will usually set you up to crave larger quantities of that food. The key to abolishing the pattern of restraint and subsequent overeating is to give yourself unconditional permission to eat, but being in tune with your body’s satiety cues is an important part of this process. Eating whenever you feel like it, without regard to hunger and fullness, may not be a very satisfying experience and may even cause physical discomfort.
Holiday Pro Tip: Allow yourself to enjoy the traditional holiday treats while staying in tune with your fullness cues. No guilt allowed!