Intuitive Eating

Give Yourself Permission to Enjoy Holiday Fare

Emily Seare Nov 16, 2018

Pies and cheese trays galore — indulging during the holiday season is practically a tradition. Followed closely by New Year’s resolutions to stop eating pies and cheese trays to lose the weight gained during the holidays.

There’s a better way to navigate the season of plenty. And surprisingly, it’s to stop worrying about your weight and start implementing intuitive eating principles into your daily routine.

Intuitive Eating, What’s That?

Intuitive eating means giving yourself unconditional permission to eat and relying on your hunger and satiety cues to maintain a healthy weight. Its principles are outlined in the book, “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works,” by registered dieticians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.

“Intuitive eating is getting a lot of attention via social media lately,” says Devrie Pettit, also a registered dietician who runs Happily Fed, a Utah health and wellness website. She focuses on coaching individuals using intuitive eating, diet recovery and Health at Every Size principles.

“Many people claim to know what it is, but they don’t fully understand its principles. A true intuitive eater is confident in acknowledging and dismissing beliefs or ideals that place more importance on body size, shape and weight rather than overall health and well-being, often referred to collectively as ‘diet-culture.’ Intuitive eaters choose to nourish their body in a way that feels good to them, without the need to manipulate it,” Pettit says.

Don’t Watch Your Weight

The goal with intuitive eating is to enjoy holiday treats while still maintaining a healthy weight. It may seem counter-intuitive, yet it is recommended that you not watch your weight or stress about holiday weight gain.

“Trust your body,” Pettit says. “Honor your hunger cues and enjoy eating. Food is not only meant for fuel. Food is also meant to be pleasurable. Food connects people in cultures around the world, especially during the holidays.”

Listen for body signals that show you’re comfortably full and discover the satisfaction factor found in the eating experience. According to, “When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting and conducive, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had enough."

Tips for Holiday Eating

Pettit recommends using the following intuitive eating tips as guidance during the holiday season:

1. Become critically aware of diet-culture messages during the holiday season. Notice them and push them aside.
2. Don’t make any holiday food rules or participate in food-related challenges.
3. Listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry even if you have a party in an hour. Don’t “save up” or skip meals; this can lead to feelings of being overly full.
4. Eat the food you like and enjoy it. Skip the food you don’t like and don’t feel pressured to eat if you aren’t hungry.
5. Create a personalized self-care list so that you can emotionally cope with holiday stress. Be sure to stay active and shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. 

It’s Not About the Numbers

The holidays are a special time of year, with unique foods that aren’t available year-round. By eating intuitively, you can savor and enjoy them, without the guilt trip.

“It is important to remember that the human body experiences weight change,” Pettit says. “Different seasons, phases of life, schedules, emotions and age all contribute to weight fluctuations. Don’t stress about holiday weight gain … and don’t feel guilty for indulging in holiday treats. If you feel a shift in weight during the holidays, take a deep breath and trust that your body will respond to what it needs in a balanced, nonrestricted manner.”

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