Healthy Eating for Your Active Lifestyle

Does the idea of attending holiday events and having no control over the food available seem daunting? If so, you’re not alone. Instead of letting food rules get in the way of celebrating, try using these five tips for eating intuitivy during the holiday season.

1.     Honour your hunger.

It’s common for people to feel like they need to restrict what they eat on the day of a big holiday event in order to “save room” for food later on. But this strategy often backfires and leads to overeating. An important aspect of intuitive eating is honouring your hunger. By ensuring you nourish your body with enough food during the day, you’re more likely to enjoy the food you eat later without eating to the point of discomfort.


2.     Identify the foods you truly enjoy.

Another important aspect of intuitive eating is the satisfaction factor. The holidays are a great time to practise your intuitive eating skills because there is such abundance of delicious food available. You might forego store-bought versions (which you may not enjoy as much) for your favourite homemade versions at holiday events. This strategy can also be used at the buffet table. Instead of taking a little bit of everything and ending up with an overloaded plate, take a walk by the table before serving yourself. This gives you a chance to choose only your favourites, without fear of missing out.


3.     Set boundaries.

If you’re tuning in to your hunger and fullness signals, you might notice that you have food left on your plate or are finished eating before others at the table. Well-meaning friends and family members may try to force more food on you, even if you’re full. Before attending holiday events, brainstorm ways to respond to their prompts for you to eat more. For example, try letting them know that while you enjoyed the food, you’re full and content for now.  


4.     Tune out diet talk.

With the New Year just around the corner, talk of weight loss and diets often begins. Instead of allowing diet talk to make you question your choice to eat intuitively, try challenging it. While this may feel uncomfortable at first, it’s a wonderful way to reaffirm the commitment you’ve made to yourself and generate discussion. Not sure how to challenge diet talk? This article is a great place to start.


5.     Develop self-care strategies. 

While the holidays are considered a time of joy and celebration, they can also be a stressful time for many people. Stress can make it hard to listen to your hunger and fullness signals, especially around the abundance of holiday food. Make a list of non-food activities that help relieve stress for you, and try to practise them often. If you’re struggling with emotional eating, try this mindfulness activity as a way to reconnect with your body.


The bottom line

Despite being armed with some good strategies, you may still find that you eat more than is comfortable during the holiday festivities. This is okay. Try to be non-judgemental and compassionate with yourself if this happens. Treat the experience with curiosity and use it as a learning experience to help you build self-trust. Above all, try to remember the holiday season for what it truly is – a time to celebrate and connect.


AFLCA and YMCA  Members 

Are you looking for practical nutrition tools for your clients? Log in to the AFLCA/ YMCA members section of the website and order free resources today.

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Sarah Morland, RD

Registered Dietitian

Sarah (BSc, RD) is an Edmonton-based registered dietitian and blogger for Nourish Move Thrive. She believes that food should nourish both the body and soul, and that physical activity should be fun. She enjoys debunking nutrition myths and translating scientific evidence into practical advice.

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