Tribole and Resch, the authors the Intuitive Eating book, describe Intuitive Eating to include a basis of mindful eating, which is the practice of being present and aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption, by respecting your own inner wisdom and also addresses the issues of irrational distortions and emotional eating. Intuitive eating includes seeing satisfaction as a main point in eating, physical activity/movement for the sake of feeling good, rejecting the diet mentality, using nutrition information without judgment, and respecting your body, regardless of how you feel about its shape (Tribole & Resch 2012). This thanksgiving can be different for you and here are a couple tips to incorporate Intuitive Eating into your Thanksgiving meal.
1. DON'T SKIP MEALS
RD, CDN Dana Fierstein and MS, RD, CDN, CEDRD Sondra Kornberg discuss how difficult it can be to be Intuitive when you haven’t eaten all day. Deciding to restrict before the Thanksgiving meal can only set you up for trouble. An underfed brain is not able to properly assess a situation, make the best decisions, or react appropriately to your surroundings or hunger. A starved brain might get even moreoverwhelmed and anxious in this kind of situation, which is why it is recommended that we show up with a well fed brain. Whether it’s before the meal or at the meal itself, you want to try to get in adequate nutrition. Consuming a wide variety of foods will ensure that your body is getting enough protein, carbohydrates, fruit, vegetables, and fats, which will allow you to be more intuitive and listen to your body at the meal. This will keep you feeling better throughout the day, hopefully then avoiding the low blood sugar moodiness and the food coma (Fiersten & Kornberg, 2016).
2. FOCUS ON THE PEOPLE
Food has become the main focus of Thanksgiving dinner and for anyone struggling with disordered eating, negative and noisy brain chatter can distract us from what this day is really about, which is family. According to Eating Disorder Hope (2018):
Distracting ourselves from these thoughts and engaging in “positive optimistic conversations such as talking about pets, new people in [our] lives, or television shows… or getting together as friends and families are a time to connect—a time to let each one of us know that we are not alone, that we are part of something greater than ourselves, that we are part of a family”.
Focusing on family and engaging in conversations can create a space where you have time to respond to internal hunger cues versus isolating yourself and reacting to food.
3. GIVE YOURSELF FULL PERMISSION
Remember that these foods do not define who you are, the fear that comes from certain foods or emotional triggers that may set off maladaptive eating behaviors are all liars. Maybe this year you will finally give yourself full permission to eat a certain dessert, food group, or serve yourself several helpings of foods. Either way go for what your body naturally wants and craves. “Unconditional permission to eat includes curiosity and non-judgment…truly having unconditional permission to eat allows us to learn to how to make peace with food, [removes] the emotional power of a “fear food” and [allows us] to feel safe around ALL foods (Flores, 2018). Its time to break the cycle!
It has been an on going process of becoming an Intuitive Eater and in the past, Thanksgiving felt like a daunting day where I was confronted with large amounts of food and large amounts of anxiety. I could no longer listen to the noisiness in my head and decided that I needed a lifestyle change. I hope these tips were helpful. Have a great Thanksgiving.
Fiersten,D. & Kronberg, S.(2017, November 13). Incorporating Intuitive Eating into Thanksgiving Festivities. National Eating Disorders Association. Retrieved November 1,2018 from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/incorporating-intuitive-eating-thanksgiving-festivities
Flores, A. (2018, March 09). What Does Intuitive Eating Mean? Retrieved November 1, 2018, from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/what-does-intuitive-eating-mean
The Meadows Ranch Staff. (2018, July 2). How to talk to your loved one with an Eating Disorder. Retrieved November 1, 2018 from https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/treatment-for-eating-disorders/family-role/how-to-talk-about-eating-disorders
Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2012). Intuitive eating: A revolutionary program that works. New York: St. Martins Griffin.