Happy thanksgiving written on a tag.

Are you tired of finishing Thanksgiving dinner and feeling uncomfortably stuffed? Or, on the flip side, do you obsess over eating too much and don’t really enjoy your dinner? If you are looking for a better balance, you may want to consider practicing intuitive eating this Thanksgiving.

Defining Intuitive Eating

It’s important to note that intuitive eating is a non-diet approach to fostering a healthy relationship with the food you eat.

It’s about breaking free from the rigid rules and rediscovering your body’s innate ability to regulate hunger, fullness, and food choices.

At its core, intuitive eating is about listening to your body’s internal cues. It’s honoring your body with respect and self-compassion by making food choices that align with genuine needs.

Understand the Core Principals of Intuitive Eating

The principals of intuitive eating are really simple. Actually following these guidelines is easier said than done.

  1. Recognize Your Hunger: Respond to hunger signals promptly, avoiding the tendency to skip meals or overeat later.
  2. Make Peace with Food: Eliminate the categorization of food as “good” or “bad,” allowing yourself to enjoy all foods without guilt or restriction.
  3. Challenge the Food Police: Silence your internal critic that dictates food choices and judgments, embracing self-acceptance and body positivity.
  4. Respect Your Fullness: Pay attention to fullness cues, slowing down to savor each bite and recognizing when you’ve had enough.
  5. Respect Your Emotion without Using Food: Address emotions using healthy coping mechanisms instead of turning to food for comfort or distraction.
  6. Respect Your Body: Appreciate and honor your body’s shape, size, and unique needs, fostering body acceptance and self-love.

Intuitive Eating vs. Diet Culture

Intuitive eating stands in stark contrast to diet culture, which is characterized by external rules, restrictions, and a focus on weight loss and body image. Diet culture promotes rigid food choices, demonizes certain foods, and perpetuates a cycle of yo-yo dieting and unhealthy behaviors.

Table set for Thanksgiving.

Preparing for an Intuitive Thanksgiving

There are a few things you can do to set yourself up for success. Here are some ideas for your consideration:

Maintain Consistent Eating Patterns

During the holidays it can be incredibly difficult to stay on your regular schedule, after all, Thanksgiving is not a regular day! If you can, do your best to:

  • Eat Regular Meals: Eat regular, balanced meals throughout the day to avoid feeling overly hungry or deprived before the Thanksgiving feast.
  • Avoid Skipping Meals: Skipping meals can lead to overeating later, making it harder to honor body cues.
  • Nourishing Choices: Choose nutrient-rich foods that provide sustained energy and satiety, avoiding excessive reliance on snacks or processed foods.

Prioritize Self-Care Practices

When your busy getting ready for the big day it can feel overwhealming when you’ve got to clean, cook, and prepare for guests. Remember, it can help if you:

  • Get Adequate Sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night to regulate hormones that influence hunger and cravings.
  • Participate in Regular Physical Activity: Engage in moderate exercise most days of the week to promote overall well-being and reduce stress levels.
  • Practice Stress Management Techniques: Incorporate stress-relieving practices like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing to manage emotional eating triggers.

The Importance of Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is at the heart of being more intuitive in how you approach Thanksgiving. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Slow Down: Savor each bite, taking time to appreciate the flavors, textures, and aromas of your food.
  2. Sensory Awareness: Pay attention to the sensory experiences of eating, noticing the taste, smell, and texture of your food.
  3. Hunger and Fullness Cues: Tune into your body’s hunger and fullness signals, eating when you’re genuinely hungry and stopping when you’re comfortably full.
  4. Non-Judgmental Attitude: Approach food with a non-judgmental mindset, avoiding labeling foods as “good” or “bad.”
  5. Respectful Choices: Honor your body’s wisdom, making food choices that align with your internal needs and preferences.
Traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, green beans, stuffing, and mashed potatoes.

The Challenge of Intuitive Eating at Thanksgiving

Intuitive eating at Thanksgiving is hard! It can be challenging due to several factors:

Abundance of Food: Thanksgiving is known for its bountiful spreads filled with tempting dishes, making it difficult to resist overindulging. The sheer sight and smell of these culinary delights can trigger cravings and make it challenging to honor body cues.

Cultural Emphasis on Overindulgence: There’s an unspoken cultural expectation to consume large quantities of food during Thanksgiving, which can create a sense of obligation to overeat. This external pressure can override internal body signals, leading to discomfort and regret.

Social Pressures and Comments: Thanksgiving gatherings often involve conversations centered around food choices and eating habits. Intrusive comments like “You should try another slice of pie” or “Don’t you want to have some more?” can make it difficult to listen to one’s body’s cues and make decisions aligned with personal needs.

Emotional Eating Triggers: The stress and emotional intensity of family gatherings can trigger emotional eating habits. Instead of addressing emotions through healthy coping mechanisms, individuals may turn to food for comfort or distraction.

Deviation from Routine: Thanksgiving often involves disruptions to daily eating routines, such as skipping meals or altering meal times to accommodate the feast. This can disrupt the body’s natural hunger and fullness signals, making it harder to eat intuitively.

Tips For Intuitive Eating Success

Be prepared for intrusive comments or questions: Understand that some people may not understand the principles of intuitive eating and may make comments about your food choices. Be prepared for these comments and have strategies in place for how to respond.

Politely deflect unwanted comments: When faced with intrusive comments, practice polite deflection techniques. You can:

  • Change the subject: Gently steer the conversation away from food by bringing up a different topic of interest.
  • Express your preferences: Briefly explain your personal food choices and preferences, emphasizing that you’re following an intuitive eating approach.
  • Set boundaries: Politely assert your right to make food choices based on your own body signals and preferences.
  • Avoid justification: Resist the urge to justify your food choices or explain yourself in detail. Simply state your preference and move on.

Focus on enjoying the company: Instead of engaging in food-related discussions, shift your focus towards enjoying the company of your loved ones. Engage in meaningful conversations, share stories, and create lasting memories.

Final thoughts

Remember, you should make food choices that feel right for you! The important thing is that you are having a good time and feel great too. Enjoy your Thanksgiving however you decide to approach it!

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