You’re probably wondering how you’re going to maintain your intuitive eating over the holidays, what with Christmas parties and buffets coming thick and fast.
Remember when you were a kid and all you cared about on Christmas morning was opening your presents? All those shiny packages under the Christmas tree, some of them had your name on them, but what was inside them? Next on the list was eating all that delicious holiday food – yum!
Dishes that you maybe saw once a year, an Aunty’s amazing dessert, your Nan’s fantastic baking, all of it just a few hours away.
There was no stress, just 100% excitement for what Christmas day would bring!
So how about we recapture that feeling this year?
These handy intuitive eating tips will make you a super-relaxed, happy healthy eating pro this Christmas, with not a worry in sight!
Tip 1 – What Foods Make Christmas Day Feel Like Christmas? Then Make It Happen
I love this tip, which I snaffled from one of my lovely clients. Her daughter-in-law is hosting Christmas lunch this year and wanted to make sure it ticked all the right boxes for everyone in the family. So she emailed them all and asked “what foods make Christmas Day feel like Christmas for you?”
Some people answered Mexican food, some answered pavlova, some answered a roast turkey. Very sensibly, my client’s DIL decided to get everyone to bring their own favourite Christmas dish – smart cookie!
But it got me thinking – with intuitive eating we’re always talking about choosing foods that are satisfying, right?! So what better time to be doing that, than at Christmas lunch and other holiday celebrations!
Food is a super-important part of our Christmas celebrations, so let’s make sure the food we each eat feels like the right food for the occasion.
So stop right now – and ask yourself what foods are really going to make Christmas feel like Christmas for you?
Is it a dish your Mum or Nana used to make when you were a child?
Is it a favourite you love?
Whatever those dishes/meals are, log them in your memory bank and check out the next tips.
Tip 2 – Create a Christmas Menu That Caters To Your Family’s Christmas Wishes
If you’re organising the Christmas lunch or dinner menu, then good news! You get to choose foods that you want to eat on Christmas day, yay!
Yes really, you don’t have to serve cold ham because that’s what’s “done for Christmas,” if what you really want is a roast leg of lamb.
Maybe you don’t like trifle, but you love home-made pavlova topped with berries – well then, put it on the menu and get your team of elves (aka family members) to help make it happen.
The point is – as an intuitive eater, this is your opportunity to actually cater for a Christmas meal in a way that truly honours your food desires and those of your family.
You’re going to have a fabulous meal to look forward to and will probably be praying for leftovers so you can enjoy it again on Boxing Day, right?!
Tip 3 – Choose a Low-Stress Christmas Celebration
Another of my lovely clients shared with me that her family always has a cold lunch for Christmas day – salads and cold meats. It’s relaxed, easy-going, and not a lot of effort to put together on the day.
And I thought – what an amazing idea!
Often we can get so busy in the kitchen prepping dishes and organising decorations that we miss out on the whole “togetherness” part of Christmas celebrations.
I know I want to spend time with my kids, not be washing up a pile of bowls, knives and other food prep items.
So think long and hard about how much time and effort you want to put into prepping a meal or dish for Christmas day, versus spending time with people that matter to you.
Less is more, especially on this occasion.
Tip 4 – Do You Really Want The Nibbles?
Unless you happened to miss breakfast in the morning, due to a marathon present-opening session, chances are that you’re not going to arrive at a lunch function starving hungry.
But if you are hungry – then by all means choose some nibbles you love, put them on a plate (ideally) and sit down to eat them. Have a think about how soon you’ll be eating the main meal too. It’d be a shame to fill up on salted peanuts and pretzels, and then miss out on enjoying a 5 course gourmet lunch because you’re already full.
Food never tastes as good if you’re not hungry, right?
If you’re not hungry, aim to pass on the nibbles and eat when lunch is served, rather than mindlessly nibbling away the whole day. The aim is to honour your hunger and fullness, just like you would any other day of the year.
Tip 5 – Survey the Buffet, Then Choose Foods Strategically
If you’re not preparing the Christmas meal, or maybe you’re dining out for a Christmas party – you can still apply the same “favourite foods” logic to your food choices.
This is your Christmas meal. You’re not on a diet. You don’t have to meet anyone’s list of restricted foods.
You can choose which foods you want to eat – and top of the list should be “the foods I love”.
Yes really – first priority is making room on your plate for the foods you love. Don’t load up with salads, “because I should eat half a plate of greens”, unless green salads are exactly what you feel like eating right now.
Choose a plate of food that you’d really like to eat. When we eat foods that are satisfying we’re likely to eat less overall.
And ditto that if you’re dining in a restaurant.
(I personally start at the dessert menu section in restaurants and work my way backwards to make sure I have enough tummy space for any good desserts – nothing worse than being too full to order a delicious sounding dessert!).
Tip 6 – Honour Your Fullness
If ever there was a day to tune into your fullness – Christmas day is that day!
We’re likely to have food pushed at us from all angles, throughout the day. Which is lovely, but can be far more than is needed.
Remember to check in with your fullness levels during a meal, try these tips:
- Stop eating half way through the plate, check your fullness levels.
- Only load up a small plate from the buffet, so you can remember to check your fullness level as you go back to the buffet to get more.
- Put your knife and fork down occasionally throughout the meal to chat with others, check in with your fullness.
- Chew every mouthful, there’ll be plenty more food to eat, so don’t rush to get through this plate load.
Look, if you eat past fullness the world won’t end. Tomorrow you’ll naturally eat a bit less if you listen to your body – it all evens out in the wash.
So don’t stress about any potential “overeating”, just try to practice what you do every other day of the year – listen and honour your fullness cues from your body.
Tip 7 – Eat As Mindfully As Possible
Christmas meals generally have more distractions than a kindy playgroup – phew!
So try your best, but don’t stress, to eat mindfully.
What does that mean?
Putting your food on a plate (yes a plate, not eating from your hands).
Put the plate on a table, sit your rear on a chair, and focus on the food and your dining companions.
It goes without saying – but no phones at the table, right? Be in the moment – by all means take a photo of your delicious meal – but then put the phone away and be in the moment.
I’m a Jesus-loving gal, so any meal is always started with a small prayer of thanks for the food and blessing the hands that prepared it.
Whatever your faith (or not), giving thanks out loud, for the delicious food in front of you is a really good way to mindfully be present with your meal and maybe will encourage your dining companions to really appreciate all the effort that your hosts have been to in preparing the meal.
Then really notice the flavours and textures of the foods you’re eating – what is it that you really like about the food?
Is it the crunch? the sweet and sour combo? the saltiness? the smooth sauce?
Take your time and enjoy each mouthful.
The slower you eat, the more likely you are to notice your fullness arriving slowly and be able to honour it and stop eating when comfortably full.
Tip 8 – Grow Your Intuitive Eating Skills
One of the best ways to ditch the struggle with food and your body this holiday season – is to grow your intuitive eating skills!
Becoming an intuitive eater is a journey, with lots of learning points along the way.
If you’d like an expert to guide you in that journey, with a simple easy-access online course – then checkout my online program Zest Boost!
You’ll have lifetime access to the online program, so you can access it any time you like and brush up on your skills.
Plus you get to join our private members facebook community and have regular group calls with yours truly, your intuitive eating nutritionist <3
Merry Christmas and enjoy your holidays!