Blog written by Sinéad Bradbury
Intuitive Eating – Something to Think about in the Run up to Christmas.
What is Intuitive Eating?
A non-dieting approach to changing your eating habits is known as “intuitive eating.” Intuitive eating is about trusting your body to make food choices that feel good for you, without judging yourself or the influence of diet culture.
Intuitive eating helps you unlearn the unhelpful, inaccurate, and confusing messaging about food, nutrition and weight, and rather than eating according to the external diet rules, you learn to eat according to your body’s internal cues – hunger, fullness, taste preferences, how food makes you feel, etc.
Managing how you navigate Christmas will help with avoiding crash dieting in January. Is this something you do each year?
The Hunger Scale
It is worthwhile to keep the Hunger Scale (a tool used when discussing Intuitive Eating) in mind at this busy and food focused time of the year. We may forget to check in with ourselves, skip meals, snack on unhealthy food offerings and generally lose touch with our hunger cues – am I hungry? Am I too full? Do I need to eat? Have I eaten too much? Generally you want to stay within the 3/4 to 7/8 range on the Hunger Scale. If you are way too hungry you will crave all the wrong foods and if you are too stuffed, you will feel lethargic and maybe not so happy in yourself. It’s Christmas, of course it’s natural to over indulge, just be mindful of how you prepare and how you feel around food choices this Christmas.
Here are some tips that you might like to try:
Eat 3 Meals – Avoid Skipping Meals
We can sleep too late (lovely!) but it often means we then are unsure whether we should have breakfast or lunch. All part of that great “off” feeling but just be mindful that if sleep routine is upset for too long, it will have a knock on effect on our eating habits. Try to eat three meals per day. You will get the nutrition you need and it will help keep your appetite and digestion in check.
I mentioned this in last month’s session. Sit, breathe, taste, chew, enjoy, repeat. Taking a few calming breaths before you eat, will help ease your nervous system which will support digestion. We are what we digest, not just what we eat! I am all for enjoying what you like at Christmas, just try to savour the moment while you do so.
Be compassionate to self
Over indulging is normal at Christmas – don’t punish yourself or beat yourself up about it. A few days of enjoying indulgent food and drinks will not have a significantly negative impact on your health or health goals. However, I will say, for some people Christmas is a 3 day affair, for others an all out 6 week fest! You decide what works best for you and your goals.
In the sport and performance world athletes need 35ml of water per kg of body weight to stay hydrated. But this can vary depending on sweat rates and activity. The message here is just because its cold, doesn’t mean you don’t need to hydrate. You may be in a great habit of drinking water when at your desk at work, remember to organise your water bottle at home too. Feeling dehydrated can cause you to crave sugar and salt and can play havoc on energy, mood, skin and sleep quality.
The antidote for overwhelm and stress this Christmas could be as simple as not forgetting to move and exercise. Walk, run, swim, whatever you enjoy but movement is just as important at Christmas as any other time of the year. Research shows that working out in a group reduces stress levels by 26% (more on this with introduction of morning yoga in the New Year!), and improve physical, mental and emotional quality of life. Get the whole family moving for a calmer Christmas!
And finally remember not everyone’s Christmas looks like a John Lewis or M&S ad! Not everything will go to plan. Aim to create fun memories as opposed to the “perfect Christmas” for a more enjoyable and happier Christmas.
See you Wednesday for more insights & recommendations for good health this time of the Year!