Exhale This Holiday Season

Contributed by Sue Moores, M.S., R.D., Kowalski's Nutritionist

Many of us hold our breath as we anticipate the next few months of enticing treats, but we struggle to give ourselves permission to fully enjoy them. We eat our favorite fixings, then find ourselves wracked with guilt for doing so. Time for a mind shift, I say! Bring on a more peaceful approach to the holidays through intuitive eating.

Intuitive or attuned eating is a practice. It's about using all your senses – sight, smell, sound, touch and taste – to choose foods that satisfy you. Through this approach you will learn when, how and how much to eat in order to feel happily satisfied. Intuitive eating is all about being fully aware and "present" when you eat. The goal is to obtain a sense of balance and acceptance of food and, most importantly, to appreciate the joy of it. It's about choosing foods that make you feel good, that nourish you, without guilt woven into the mix.

Evelyn Tribole, a nutrition expert in intuitive eating, feels that the holidays are an excellent time to begin gaining those skills. "Guilt is the fastest way to ruin the fun of food," she says. “It's a buzz-kill and has no role in eating, including over the holidays."

According to Tribole, attuned eating is a journey of empowerment to live your best life. It's about making peace with food. It encompasses several principles that you learn to master over time. Tribole offers three tips to get you started this holiday season:

Holiday Dinner Party
Baguette with Apple Slices, Blue Cheese and Walnuts

1. Find satisfaction.

Ask yourself what you need in order to have a satisfying meal or holiday outing. Which foods are most important to you? When do you feel full and comfortable? How do you want to feel at the end of the meal or gathering? In short, eat with intention and attention to food. Both your sense of fullness and satisfaction are significantly reduced when you eat while multitasking, which leads to overeating. Minimize distractions so you can sense and realize every bit of goodness from the foods you choose.

2. Reject the diet mentality.

When you're on a diet, you give the power of making food choices to whoever created that diet. Because food choices are very personal and no one knows which foods and what choices are important to you, those rules create tension. Tension leads to stress, and stress affects how we eat. Let go of the idea of dieting.

3. Grant yourself unconditional permission to eat with "attunement."

Only you know you, how you feel physically and emotionally, how you feel about food and how you want to eat and want to feel about food. Embrace those feelings, explore them and honor them so you can follow your built-in barometer for extracting the good that food offers while achieving "inner peace on your plate."

In with the good, out with the guilt. As you seize more ease over the holidays, why not channel a little of powerhouse R&B/rock and soul singer Patti LaBelle to go with it...

"I'm feeling good from my hat to my shoe
Know where I am going and I know what to do
I've tidied up my point of view
I've got a new attitude."


Read more about the Intuitive Eating approach developed by registered dietitian nutritionists Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch at www.intuitiveeating.com.