Christmas: a time to fully experience the joy of food and pleasure of eating!

15th December, 2015

Intuitive eaters don’t need food rules to manage their eating around Christmas.

I was disappointed this morning to see my favourite media source spouting the same old messages around managing eating and weight over the Christmas period. Smaller plates, smaller serving spoons, eating salad first, long thin glasses, move away from the food (just in case it jumps on your plate!).

There was also the message that even a 1/2 kg weight gain over the holiday season was a cause for much concern. My partner made the comment that these messages were likely just scaring people and that even he was feeling he must be careful or he might eat too many calories and gain weight.

It is so easy to get caught up in worrying about eating too much and gaining weight. Having a set of external rules to follow, such as those listed above, often only serves to amplify this worry about eating too much. This is known as diet mentality.

What if people were able to listen to their internal cues of hunger and fullness and trust their own bodies with how much to eat? This is very possible and what intuitive eaters do. At its core, intuitive eating is trusting your own inner body wisdom with when, what and how much to eat. If you would like you know more about intuitive eating, read this piece.

Intuitive eaters may still eat past the point of comfortable fullness at social functions and on Christmas day, however, in being more attuned to their fullness, intuitive eaters may not over-eat as much as those who are not as tuned into fullness. Intuitive eaters may also find themselves naturally eating less the next day, for example boxing day, as they recognise that they are not as hungry.

If you’re like me and you have two Christmases, on the 25th and Boxing day (or Christmas eve for some), it is much easier to choose to say no to delicious Christmas food if you’re no longer hungry, when you know you can eat delicious food whenever you are hungry for it. Dieters, or people who restrain from eating certain food, can find it much harder to say to no to delicious Christmas food when it’s on offer… after all, they will back on their diet, or be “good” tomorrow, so better “get it while I can.”

As mentioned, intuitive eating can encompass eating past the point of comfortable fullness, but the difference is you make the choice to eat just a little bit more because the food tastes amazing or perhaps you only eat Christmas pudding or pavlova once or twice a year. You thoroughly enjoy the food and there is no guilt or regret attached to the eating. This is very different to over-eating just because it’s Christmas and you deserve it because you’ve been so careful with your eating the rest of the time. This type of over-eating can lead to feeling sick and regret for having eaten so much which can take away the pleasure and enjoyment of the food and occasion. This also drives the cycle of yoyo dieting that so many people are caught in.

Celebrations and Christmas day should be a time where we fully experience the joy of food and pleasure of eating with our family and friends. Having food rules or trying to be careful takes away from this experience and can leave people feeling anxious about food and worrying about their bodies. Imagine if you could allow yourself to eat whatever you feel like, take pleasure from the delicious celebration food and simply relax with your loved ones without worrying about food or weight. Well, you can. Start to shake off the diet mentality and learn to trust your inner body wisdom and this is very possible.

Merry Christmas everyone and may you enjoy plenty of delicious food!