Ah, the holidays! That time of the year when you have an abundance in delicious food options at all times of the day— from fresh baked cookies and holiday candies to stuffing and mashed potatoes. Parties, events, and even just a trip to your local Trader Joe’s can present unique and delectable choices in food. We say indulge! Indulge intuitively though by taking a cue from the intuitive eating ‘diet’ it will keep you from over-indulging, while still enjoying all the fun.
Intuitive eating is about tuning into your body’s hunger levels to help you from mindlessly eating, eating from emotional stress, and overeating. “It’s necessary to become supremely conscious of your body’s signals before and after eating and use those signals to help guide your choices at holiday gatherings where there is often an abundance in holiday fare,” says Dr. Todd Sinett, chiropractor and author of the book The Back Pain Relief Diet. Dr. Sinett states how overeating is one factor that leads to stomach inflammation, as the digestive system gets inundated with more than it can efficiently process. “This can not only cause a terrible stomach pain (and who needs that during the holidays?!) but it can also lead to back pain,” he says.
Ahead are some quick tips grounded in the practice of intuitive eating to help you become more in tune with your eating.
Intuitive Eating Tip #1: Healthy Snacking
Eat a healthy snack or breakfast within one hour of getting up each morning; and eat a healthy snack during the downtimes of your parties and events. Go for an apple, some vegetables, or nuts. Having these snacks will curb your hunger while helping to fill you up so you’re not eating too much of the sweet stuff at the party.
Intuitive Eating Tip #2: Slow & Steady
Eat slowly to allow yourself to be aware of feeling full. For a holiday dinner, really take the time with your food. Enjoy the conversation around you more so you’re not focused only on eating. This has a double reward: one you will become more appreciative of what you’re eating; and two, you’ll be more in tune with your body which will help you determine if you should have that second slice of pecan pie.
Intuitive Eating Tip #3: Avoid the Clean-Plate Club
Always leave at least one bite of each type of food on your plate at the end of the meal. This will help in leaving room for that hot cocoa full of marshmallows! This tip is also useful if you have a couple gatherings in one day where the host will want you to eat. You can still be polite, while reducing your intake.
Intuitive Eating Tip #4: Keep A Food Journal
At the end of the day write down everything you consumed in the past 24 hours. Yes, this may seem like a daunting task during such a busy time of year, but it can be incredibly rewarding. Sometimes you don’t realize how much all the holiday food nibbling adds up until you see it on paper. You can also make this extra rewarding by taking the time to also write one thing you’re grateful for that day. Studies have found that writing down a gratitude can contribute to your health in a truly positive way— it can help with sleep, lower stress, and even improve interpersonal relationships. Now that makes for a supremely sweet season of celebrating.
To learn more about your diet and how it relates to your own unique digestive system and potential back pain, pick up a copy of Dr. Sinett’s book The Back Pain Relief Diet.