Balance Soulful and Healthy Holiday Eating
Don’t Just Survive the Holidays, Thrive With an Intuitive Eating Approach
At Health Stand Nutrition, we believe there is always a balance between indulgence and healthy eating during the holidays that we call eating SOULfully. We know you are constantly inundated with diet and nutrition information from popular media, influencers, social media, and Netflix documentaries.
You are made to believe that we need to eat food X to live longer, or that we NEED to start this diet to look like celebrity Y. We are told this is what will make us happier. As we head into a new year, we are all ready to start the next fad diet because 2022 will be our year to change!
The part that really gets me fired up about this is that fear is often used to try and sell you some product. However, the seller cares very little about you, your health, and your wellbeing. Messages about “surviving the holidays” are everywhere. These messages recommend you celebrate without eating your favorite and most cherished foods. To follow restrictions in a season where we usually have all kinds of favourite baking and treats around! This perpetuates false beliefs that we all need to look a certain way to be happy, healthy and loved. That restriction is ‘normal’ and that we need to fit a cookie cutter body shape. If we do not, we must restrict, feel guilt and shame, and not enjoy food.This is simply not true.
This whole culture has created a massive increase in anxiety around food which can lead to eating disorders. In a time where fear is all around us, more anxiety and fear are only causing more problems. I am here to tell you is that you DO NOT NEED to survive this Christmas, you can eat with freedom and flexibility and still be perfectly healthy and much happier.
What is normal eating?
A common message we share at Health Stand Nutrition is that for us to eat with balance we need to think about healthful and soulful eating equally. This means that while it is good to balance carbs,. proteins, and fats, get in enough water, get all our micronutrients in; it is equally important to eat to feed your soul by eating foods that spark joy like chocolate or those Christmas cookies you only get once a year from your grandma.
Ellyn Satter wrote a perfect definition for Normal Eating. I have included some of my favorite lines but the entire definitely is linked here.
“Normal eating is being able to choose food you enjoy and to eat it and truly get enough of it- not just stop eating because you think you should.
Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat because you are happy, sad. Or bored, or just because it feels good.
Normal eating is overeating at times, and feeling stuffed and uncomfortable…. And undereating at times, and wishing you had more.”
Normal eating is NOT restricting food or cutting out food you enjoy, just because you think you should or diet culture tells you to!
Eating Intuitively for Healthy Holiday Eating
You may be thinking, “there is no way I can eat what I want and still be healthy…” or “this sounds great, but I know I can’t do that because I will gain weight or lose control”.
These feelings are perfectly normal, especially with the information that is being ingrained in us at such a young age. This is exactly why food and nutrition are so closely tied to our emotions. It is important to understand that it is normal and okay to have emotions related to food.
I want you to understand that one meal, one day, even one week will not make you ‘unhealthy’; it is what we do consistently over time. Research has shown time and time again that diets do not work in the long term. According to the book Intuitive Eating, the concern with any diet is that restriction or the internal narrative of “I can’t” or “I shouldn’t” have this food, can lead to this overwhelming feeling of deprivation. This can then lead to out of control cravings and/or bingeing followed by overwhelming guilt, shame, and feelings of failure
Healthy Holiday Eating Tips
The 10 Principles to Intuitive Eating take a major shift from what we were ingrained to believe, towards learning to trust your body again. These principles help us to find the balance between thinking about our health but also enjoying the food we eat with pleasure rather than guilt.
Let’s start small with two of the principles:
- Build Balance in a Meal. Include a source of protein (about ¼ of the plate), add in fiber and energy (often the grain or starch), finish with colour (aim for 2-3 colours of fruit and/or vegetables). Not every meal is going to fit this perfectly and that is OK! This is a baseline goal. The portions will also be dependent on what your day looks like and how much activity you are doing.
- Bring Awareness to Eating. Take the time to stop yourself before eating, be intentional, ask yourself: “Am I feeding my soul?” “Am I physically hungry?” “Does this food spark joy?” This will help to bring some awareness to eating, allow your brain to kick in and let yourself choose foods you LOVE and enjoy!
Lastly, learn to simplify. Throw out the diet books, unfollow the influencer selling a diet or program, walk away when colleagues or friends who start ranting about diets and start taking care of you and your body. Finding freedom and confidence with food is possible and will help you to experience to fullness of good health, high performance and happiness.
You might also like these previous blogs on our website here:
Intuitive Eating 101: Freedom from Dieting
What is Normalized Eating and Why Is It So Hard?)
Myths of an Eating Disorder Dietitian
How to Survive the Holidays with an Eating Disorder
Looking for more simple meal planning tips and healthy recipes for a healthier lifestyle?
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Disordered Eating, Emotional Eating, Sports Nutrition, Fertility/Women's Health
Empathy and kindness are two things you will notice about Alison, oh, and her love of good food and sport! Alison is known for her client-centered approach that looks at a person as a whole in all aspects of physical, mental and spiritual health. She specializes in eating disorders, emotional eating, sports nutrition, fertility and women's health.