How to Increase Satisfaction at Holiday Meals

Can we make a vow to ignore all of the holiday weight loss posts that are swimming around on the Internet? Okay, cool. Vow = made and now let’s talk about how to actually be satisfied at the holidays!

how to eat healthy during the holidays

SNACK BEFOREHAND + EAT WHEN GENTLY HUNGRY

We’re starting with this tip because I consider it to be the “foundation” of the other tips in this post – the one that, if you fully commit to it, will allow you to more completely experience the day and enjoy it!

Important note: you don’t need to “make up” for anything you eat, ever – with exercise, with eating less earlier/later that day, with medication – nothing. If you were to skip breakfast/lunch/snacking the day of Thanksgiving or any day with a dinner that’s an “event”, here’s what would happen:

  • You would get increasingly lightheaded and hangry during the day. Most bodies work best when fed every 3-5 hours, so to wait from when you wake up until a ~4pm dinner is a long freakin’ time.
  • By the time dinner rolls around, you may be so hungry that you eat quickly, can’t adjust to fullness cues, and overeat to the point of sickness. [for more on this, read this post about hunger and fullness]
  • You will likely spend most of your day thinking about food instead of having brain space to enjoy the time with family and friends.

If you wake up, eat a breakfast in accordance with your hunger/fullness, and snack as needed, you will be able to better utilize the tips in the rest of this post! And yes, it would be nice to try to shoot for a level of gently-to-moderately hungry before Thanksgiving/Christmas/holiday meals, but I think the key here is to not overthink it.

CONSIDER WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO EAT

One of the weirdest things about intuitive eating (for me, at least) is the realization that some of your “favorite” foods are things you don’t actually like – they’re just things that have the “forbidden fruit” mentality surrounding them and so it feels like we need to eat them as much as possible and then feel guilty about it.

But once all foods are available, it lets us clearly and carefully consider what we actually like – because there’s no need to obsess or binge. So, you can grab a small sample platter of whatever looks good then go back for more as you want, or if you know whose “famous” recipes you absolutely love, you can head straight for those!

So, just because it’s available doesn’t mean that you have to eat it – and just because it’s a once-a-year food also doesn’t mean you have to eat it. But I also think it’s fair to recognize that the holidays are a time when the eating game is just different because there’s more food, more kinds of food, more people, more stress, more of everything – so maybe our eating will be different, too.

ENJOY THE BEGINNING OF YOUR MEAL (+ THE REST OF IT, TOO!)

I have seen so. many. tips. that include eating salad first to “fill up”, eating veggies first, drinking a huge amount of water, etc. – all in the name of not eating “too much.”

But here’s what happens when you start with something less appealing or something you’re forcing yourself to eat: you still want the other stuff that you’re waiting on! And what’s more, if you really want it and are excited to enjoy it, that might outweigh your growing fullness levels and you may end up so full you’re sick. So, I think it’s an important concept that we eat in a joyful way for the whole meal, which will allow you to tune in to your body much better! Also: enjoying your whole meal > struggling through stuff you don’t like and then only enjoying the last part of your meal. Plain and simple.

Side note: loop back to “consider what you really want to eat” to help keep your whole meal enjoyable. What’s the point of eating things you don’t like?

REMEMBER THE 3 S’S OF INTUITIVE EATING

Oh, Intuitive Eating. Bless. Its content is worth about a million dollars in my opinion, but I’m glad it’s only $10 because who has a million dollars? Anyway. The book contains a lot of info, but one of my favorite tips is called the “3 S’s” of intuitive eating, meaning that we should strive to eat:

  • Slowly
  • Sensually
  • Savoring every bite

ALLOW DISAPPOINTING FOOD TO BE DISAPPOINTING

I read this somewhere in a post last holiday season and goodness was it a game changer! If you take a bite of something and it’s not that great or you don’t want to keep eating it, don’t keep eating it. I think there’s some pressure surrounding the holidays to enjoy all of the food, especially the food that’s made “special” for the occasion – but it’s okay to just take a little/none of what you’re not into, or share with someone if you take it and end up not liking it.

How do you maintain an intuitive eating mindset during the holidays? Any tips to share with all our friends? Let me know in the comments!

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