November 5, 2018

By : Erin Gonzalez, MS, RD, LD

November and December are filled with social gatherings emphasizing traditions, fun, and of course food! Many people struggle with holidays and fear of overeating at parties. What if, just the thought of a diet, restriction or deprivation being around the corner is what influences the overeating to occur? How many times have you ever heard yourself or someone else say, “Well I blew it, so I might as well keep going”?  This thinking influences our likeliness to overeat. The goal is to learn and practice how to avoid the all-or-nothing mindset so you can enjoy the holidays. 

1. Give Yourself Unconditional Permission to Eat.

If you have rules and judgements around food (think good vs. bad), it will likely hinder your ability to self-moderate food choices. Eating for the intent to feel satisfied is key, especially since overeating or under eating are not satisfying. If eating has been conditional, “I can eat that if I run an extra few miles tomorrow.” “I can have that but only on my cheat day.” This concept of unconditional permission to eat may seem too good to be true. However allowing yourself permission to eat with attunement, meaning listening to your body’s signals of when you are physically satisfied, will allow you the enjoyment of eating while also honoring your body’s needs at the same time.

2.  Check in on Hunger and Fullness Cues.

You were born with the ability to know when you are hungry and when you are full.  Trust that your body can be trusted. Try to tune into your body to listen for physical hunger (emptiness, growling, rumbling, etc.) as well as fullness (content, satisfied, decreased interest/focus on the food). Our bodies are great at self-moderating if we allow them to. Our bodies also naturally seek out balance with eating for enjoyment and nourishment. Depending on the day, different foods can and will be nourishing and satisfying.  

3.  Aim to Be in Charge.

Just like you have unconditional permission to say yes to food, you also have unconditional permission to say no. Instead of being in control around food, aim to be in charge. No food is off limits, and because of that, it will be waiting for you when you really want it. If you don’t love a food you are eating, don’t eat it, and if you do love it, savor it. 

4.  Find Alternative Coping Strategies to Using Food for Dealing with Holiday Stress.

Emotional eating is normal. We are connected to food in many beautiful ways and food can be comforting. However, if it is our only coping strategy and we feel worse at the end it really is not helping us feel better. Aim to be proactive instead of reactive. Ask yourself how you can be proactive in taking care of yourself to avoid crisis mode.

Erin Gonzalez is a non-diet, intuitive eating dietitian who helps people learn how to have a healthy relationship with food and their body so they can eat in a way that honors enjoyment and nourishment with food.