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The Un-Dieter's Guide to Holiday Eating

Whether you are years into your intuitive eating journey or just getting started, the holidays can make you feel incredibly anxious with all the extra opportunities to enjoy food. The other challenge is that for many people, this is the first holiday where you’ve been able to travel again or attend all the holiday parties. So if you’re feeling a tad overwhelmed, you’re not alone. So in this episode, I have some helpful tips that will empower you to stay focused and present during the holidays.




What we have to come to grips with is the fact that seasonal eating is just a normal part of life. Food is full of memories and cultural significance, so our eating goals need to be flexible enough to enjoy these foods without regret and guilt. We don’t always eat just because we need it. Sometimes we just want it. And that is 100% okay. 


One key to feeling confident about your eating journey around the holidays is to avoid creating scarcity around food. The moment we tell ourselves we will start the diet on January 1st, or we will only eat veggies prior to the party, we’ve set ourselves up to fail. Secondly, when you can’t decide if you really do want that 2nd or 3rd dessert, try asking yourself: will this add to or take away from my satisfaction right now? 


In this episode, you’ll learn: 

  • Why this holiday seasons feel extra tricky to navigate
  • Why intuitive eating specifically creates space for seasonal eating
  • Common examples of creating scarcity to justify eating more around the holidays
  • Why satisfaction is not something we can store up for later or a rainy day
  • 3 things you can control when you schedule and rhythms are off for the holiday



Jenn Huber  00:02

Hi, and welcome to the midlife feast the podcast for women who are hungry for more in this season of life. I'm your host, Dr. Jenn Celine Huber. Come to my table, listen and learn from me. Trusted guests, experts in women's health and interviews with women just like you. Each episode brings to the table juicy conversations designed to help you feast on midlife. Hey there. So this is a quick little episode that I'm going to call the underwriters guide to holiday eating. So this episode is coming out on December 23, which is tomorrow. I'm recording this the day before, because I've had so many conversations this week. And I've had so many messages from people saying that they are having a really hard time staying focused on being an intuitive eater around the holidays. 


Now, I don't think that this is necessarily a new thing. But this year is a little different in that for many of us, it is our first quote normal Christmas since 2019. There's a lot more travel, holiday parties are back work parties, family parties, there's just a lot more decision points or opportunities about food, to have food and enjoy food and more kind of decision fatigue, I think that is coming into play. So I tried to come up with a little list of things that you can keep in mind when you are heading into these situations, and you're trying to still be mindful of being an intuitive eater learning to be an intuitive eater, or just trying to be more present when you're eating throughout the holidays. Now, I want to say that these questions have come from people who are very experienced intuitive eaters, and from some people who are pretty new on the journey. 


And so I would absolutely expect that a holiday that centers around food would bring up a lot of questions. So let's try and talk a little bit about how we can feast on this season without guilt without regret, and feel like just that we're feeling good in our bodies this season. So the first kind of principle, I guess you can call it is or the first thing that I want you to keep in mind is that seasonal celebrations with food are part of normal eating. 


Normal eating can be defined as primarily eating when we're hungry, and eating to nourish and fuel our bodies, but also sometimes eating just because it's a birthday, or it's having popcorn at the movies, or having ice cream on a hot day. Sometimes it's just eating just because eating never has to be perfect. But especially when we're having these seasonal celebrations, that cultures all around the food all around the world will have seasonal foods that they only have at this time of year. So remember that your grandma's favorite dessert that she only makes it Christmas, or your boss's famous cookies, or your you know, making sugar cookies and decorating them with your kids. This is all part of normal eating.


And if you want to have a relationship with food that feels easy, and intuitive and good. It has to have the flexibility for eating because it's Christmas. So the other thing is, you know, kind of building on that last one is that it is absolutely normal to eat foods just because they taste good. So sometimes when we're on our journey to be an intuitive eater, we get really focused on thinking, Am I hungry? Am I fall? Do I need more? Do I need less. But sometimes we just want it because we want it. And if you have a permission mindset and you really have that belief that you have unconditional permission to eat. It's no big deal to have more of something because it tastes good. And going back to point one and is absolutely part of normal eating. Probably the biggest thing that I have said to people this week and even last week when I've been talking to them about this is do not create scarcity by planning to start a diet in January, or planning to make up for your holiday eating by doing an extra workout or planning to only eat salad before you go to someone's house for dinner. Because the minute that you create scarcity, you create craving. 


It's the control that creates the craving. So if you believe that your access to a certain food or a certain meal is conditional on earning it is conditional on being able to make up for it is conditional on whether or not you feel allowed to have it for any reason, you will have a very difficult time feeling like you've had enough. And so if you spend the rest of this month, thinking, I'm just going to eat all the things, because on January 1, I'm starting a new plant or a new diet, you are firmly planting yourself in the scarcity mindset, and you will find it very difficult to feel satisfied with anything. So keeping on the satisfaction mindset, let's talk about leading with satisfaction. So I talked about this a lot. Anybody who's worked with me will know that that's definitely part of my framework is that you want to lead with satisfaction. 


But one of the things that you that I'd love for you to try on and to think about is that satisfaction is an in the moment thing, it's not something that we can store up, it's not something that we can save for later. It's not something that we can hoard or take a whole bunch of in one particular moment and pull it out of a hat, you know, two days later. Satisfaction is something that we experience in the moment. And I'm going to give you an example, if you're having a hard time kind of relating to that. So imagine having been on the most relaxing vacation ever. Hopefully, you can remember what that's like, hopefully, you've had that experience of just coming back from vacation, feeling rested, and repleted. And feeling like all of your buckets have been filled. 


And thinking, I'm going to hold on to this feeling forever. And then something happens Monday morning, first day back at work first day back of getting back into a regular routine and schedule, and some kind of shit hits the fan. And poof, that relaxation, that feeling is just gotten, you can't even remember what it felt like. Because just like with food, you can't store up satisfaction or relaxation from a vacation and pull it out the next time that you have an argument with someone at work or something stressful happens. 


So satisfaction with food is in the moment, we can't store it up. And so when we are thinking about satisfaction, and when we're leaving with satisfaction, and we're in an environment where we have all of this tasty food, and we're maybe having access to these foods that we haven't had for a long time or can only get at this time of year, it can be really hard to tune in and say, Do I want more? Do I need more? Should I have more? Shouldn't I have more? Especially if you're in these early days as an intuitive eater? So I'm going to share with you one of the questions that I tell the people that I work with all the time, and that they tell me is really helpful is to ask yourself in that moment of let's just use cookies as an example. You're eating grandma's cookies, they're so good. You've enjoyed them. You're not necessarily counting how many you've had. But you're starting to get to the point where you think I'm not sure if I want another one. Oh, but I do know, maybe I don't Oh, but maybe I do. And you can't really decide asking yourself in that moment. Will having another one of these cookies add to my satisfaction in this moment? 


Or will it take away from my satisfaction? In this moment? We'll help you stay out of the scarcity mindset. And we'll help you stay focused on is there any more satisfaction that I can get out of this moment? Or should I pack a doggie bag and take a few cookies to have tomorrow? Because we can't store up satisfaction but we can experience it again, which is really the gift of permission that it doesn't have to be in one particular moment. It really can be at another moment. And that moment may be in half an hour, or it could be in three days. 


But if you know that you can't store up satisfaction, it really takes you out of that line of thinking that scarcity creates that tells us that if I have more now, I will want less later because that never works. Right? We all know that that never works. So lead with satisfaction, but really trying to stay present with satisfaction and then ask how can I experience this again later, and maybe pack them up for another day.


Jenn Huber  09:59

But the question also comes up around satisfaction. And, you know, if I'm honoring satisfaction, am I honoring my, my other needs? Because if I'm leading with satisfaction, aren't I just choosing the foods that taste good or the foods that I want, not necessarily leading with satisfaction and listening to taste, hunger is a great way to get started with it. But satisfaction is actually what we experience when all of our needs are met. And just eating the cookies and fudge all the time wouldn't be satisfying, right? And maybe if you're on your like, six, Christmas dinner or holiday dinner, or however you celebrate, you might be starting to think like, 


Yeah, I'm kind of done with that or feeling less interested in that. And that's a very, very normal thing that happens when we experience permission and satisfaction together. But thinking about satisfaction and wanting to feel nourished and satisfied might be what can I add to my plate? What else can I have with this meal with these cookies with this fudge with this, whatever, that will help me to feel full that will give me energy that will you know kind of helped to meet all of my needs. So maybe broaden your definition of satisfaction. And don't just get pigeonholed into thinking that satisfaction are foods that only or only taste good or food that only tastes good can honor satisfaction because it's so much more than that.


 The last couple of things are, you know, things that I've said before but one is that you know, health isn't made or broken in a week or even a month of holiday eating. Even if you cannot follow any intention through you know, because you are on the road because you're traveling because you're at someone else's house. Because you're not cooking, you're not in charge of buying groceries. No harm will come to you in a day or a week or even a month of holiday eating. And that kind of leads to what I want to end on and that you know, especially for those of us who are in midlife, the holidays are filled with attunement disruptors meaning we have changes in sleep in our routines and time zones. 

Everything changes for sometimes a few days, but sometimes a few weeks, as we welcome people into our home. Thankfully again, as we go to other people's homes, as we celebrate as we you know, have all of these wonderful seasonal rituals and routines that help us to mark this time of year. It also means that everything changes, we go to bed later, we might be sleeping in later, we might be eating differently, we are likely experiencing changes in our just our day to day rhythms. And all of those are attunement disruptors meaning that it can make it a little bit harder to tune into, am I hungry? What kind of hunger is this? Am I full Am I satisfied, and just really taking it down to what are three things that I can control, or that I can reliably provide input on I should say, as a better way to put it. That will help me to create a rhythm and routine that helps me to feel good in my body. So for me that's movement, it's a regular bedtime. 


So try not to go to bed much later than I normally do. And it's making time for self care, which sometimes actually means going to bed early. But it usually means that I'm going to carve out 30 or 40 minutes in the day where I'm doing something for me. And you know, I love to read so having a book on hand that I can do wherever. But recognizing that there's going to be a whole lot of things I can't control. But those are probably three things that I can control during this holiday season. So I hope that this little quick underwriters guide to holiday eating and experiencing the holidays as an intuitive eater has given you maybe a touchstone to you know, kind of jump off of as you head out to celebrate the holidays, the next 10 days tend to be some of the most joyful but also maybe some of the most stressful depending on how you celebrate and who you celebrate with. But however you celebrate I do sincerely wish you a wonderful holiday season. 


And I hope that you get to experience lots of wonderful tastes of the season. And that you can end the year maybe feeling a little bit better than you would have another year if you're heading into January 1 thinking about starting another diet. So I will end by saying that beyond the scale, which is my group program, the underwriting program which kind of goes into all of this stuff and more starts up again on January 15. 


And there are a couple of spots left. But I also have my FREE undying challenge, which is happening starting on January 1, which will help you to undyed the belief of your choice. I'm going to share my framework all my secrets with you, so that you tell me what you want to indict. And I'm going to help you to do it, sharing kind of my framework, my process, so you can find the links to both of those in the show notes and I would absolutely love to have you join either of those and keep you out of diet culture for another year. 


Have a great holiday. Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode of the midlife feast. For more non diet help hormone and general midlife support. Click the link in the show notes to learn how you can work and learn from me. And if you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, please consider leaving a review or subscribing because it helps other women just like you find us and feel supported in midlife.


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