I used to dread the holiday season. Thanksgiving was the worst.
I know many people dread the holidays. Being around family is stressful for some and for others there is no family to go home to. Those weren’t the reasons though that anxiety would linger in my body each November.
When I was anorexic I spent most of my waking hours avoiding food. That’s kind of hard to do at Thanksgiving. When the anorexia turned into a binge eating disorder, Thanksgiving was still the worst. I felt dangerous around food and was confident I’d lose control.
I don’t know where you are this Thanksgiving. Perhaps you fear the Thanksgiving table in ways that I have in the past. If so, can I share something with you that has radically changed my life?!
Years ago, after a decade of hating my body and a tumultuous relationship with food, my counselor introduced me to a book called Intuitive Eating. I won’t get into all the details of what IE is in this post because there will be a series of blogposts coming your way in January that delve deep into all ten principles of Intuitive Eating. However, on this week before Thanksgiving I’d love to give you a flyover view simply to encourage you during this season.
IE is personal process aimed at attaining a rich and meaningful relationship with food. It’s an anti-diet lifestyle that empowers you to trust your body. It is a way to honor your health and nourish your whole being. The ten principles: rejecting the diet mentality, honoring your hunger, making peace with food, challenging the food police, feeling your fullness, discovering the satisfaction factor, coping with your feelings without food, respecting your body, exercising to feel the difference, and honoring your health with gentle nutrition, all work together to help normalize your relationship with eating.
As a therapist, what I love most about inviting clients into the world of IE is the sense of inner attunement it cultivates.
What do I mean by attunement? Attunement is the ability to read what is happening inside your body and mind. For those of us who have had eating related issues, we often don’t understand what triggers us to over/under eat. We might not even know what our bodies’ hunger and fullness cues are or what foods we truly enjoy. By eating intuitively we can begin to trust our bodies’ instincts.
This holiday season I’m not suggesting you drastically change how you eat or view your body. In fact, I think the kindest thing for you would be NOT to do that. Instead I just want you to notice. Notice any thoughts or feelings you have towards food or your body. Notice what foods you enjoy eating. Notice if there are any situations or people that make eating uncomfortable. Notice your hunger. Notice your fullness. Notice how food tastes on your tongue.
Please know that eating intuitively will not happen overnight. No matter where you are in your journey with food, you are acceptable as you are. You don’t have to be anywhere other than where you are right now. Rest assured, as you become more attuned to what your body needs, change will occur. But in the meantime all I ask is for you to notice. Be curious. And most importantly, be kind to yourself in this process.
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