4 Intuitive Eating Tips for a Peaceful Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be a stressful time, especially if you have a fraught relationship with food. Following are four Intuitive Eating tips to help you navigate the holiday (and every day) with greater ease.

1. Fire Your Internal Food Police
Your internal food police are the loud voices in your head that tell you that you’re “good” or “bad” based on what or how you ate.

They try to enforce the unreasonable rules diet culture has created and make you feel guilty and ashamed about your food choices. And, they compel you to take compensatory measures to make up for your “food sins,” like exercising excessively or detoxing post-holiday—unhelpful behaviors that usually backfire.

In order to have a peaceful relationship with food, you must fire your food police by challenging your beliefs and rules and removing any morality and judgment surrounding food.

Keep in mind that…

  • All foods are emotionally equivalent regardless of their nutritional value. A baked sweet potato is equal to sweet potato pie; eating one or the other doesn’t make you good or bad.

  • Making peace with food means giving yourself unconditional permission to eat whatever looks good, tastes good and feels good in your body, without internal judgment or external influence.

  • All foods fit in a balanced diet. This includes everything from turkey, stuffing and green-bean casserole to Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes and mac-and-cheese. 

  • Normal eating includes sometimes eating simply for pleasure and sometimes eating until you're stuffed. Neither one is a crime you have to pay a penance for.

  • Unless you stole your food or harmed someone to get it, there’s no place for guilt in your eating world.

2. Set Boundaries with External Food Police
Your external food police are people who say things like “Do you really need more mashed potatoes?” or “You’re gonna regret that second slice of pecan pie!”

Regardless of the food cop’s intentions, you have the right to eat whatever you want without having someone negatively comment on, criticize, judge or question your choices.

Whether it’s a family member, partner or friend patrolling your eating, it’s important to set boundaries regarding what comments are inappropriate and unwelcomed. Here are a few comebacks:

  • I trust myself to give my body what it needs.

  • You mind your own plate and I’ll mind mine.

  • I know you mean well, but your comments aren’t helpful.

Head on over to here for more ideas.

3. Say No to Food Pushers
Whether they are trying to express their love, be a gracious host or offload their extra food, food pushers can be tricky to say no to, especially when they’re persistent. However, you’re under no obligation to take food you don’t want, either because you’re full or simply don’t desire it.

If a simple “No, thank you” doesn’t work, try responding with:

  • It looks so yummy but I’m full; I’d love to take some home or get your recipe.

  • I’d really love to eat more, but couldn’t possibly swallow another bite without feeling uncomfortably full.

  • I know I usually say yes, however, I’m trying to honor the messages my body is sending me, and right now, it's telling me it's full! I’m sure you can respect this.

4. Squash the Diet and Weight Talk
“I’m being so bad! Today is definitely my cheat day!"

“This is a calorie bomb! We'll need to burn this off tomorrow!”

"I can't believe how many carbs I'm eating. I'm going to pay for this!"

During the Thanksgiving feast, it’s not uncommon to hear remarks like these. Nor is it uncommon for such remarks to trigger feelings of anxiety, guilt and shame.

Set an intention before the festivities to not participate in diet and weight talk. Instead, switch the topic to travel, sports, or the reason for the season—gratitude.

I hope these tips help you have a more peaceful and relaxed relationship with food, both on Thanksgiving Day and every day of the year.

My Two Thanksgiving Wishes for You...

I have two Thanksgiving wishes for you...
1. Slow Down
Years ago, I spent hours with two other women preparing a delicious Thanksgiving feast, only to watch our guests scarf it down in less than 15 minutes, then leave the table. Barely a sentence was spoken throughout the entire meal.

They grabbed dessert and headed back to the TV leaving the cooks behind as we stared at our half-empty plates.

I was disappointed and, well, really annoyed.

My first wish for you this Thanksgiving is to slow down.

Savor every moment and morsel.

Linger over your meal enjoying good conversation with your table mates. Truly taste and savor each and every bite.

My family has a fun tradition of posing questions to the entire table then taking turns answering them. Everyone participates, from ages 6 to 80.

Questions range from “What movie character would you like to be?” and “If you could be any flavor of ice cream, what would you be and why? to "What was your best day ever?”

By slowing down, you will experience greater pleasure and satisfaction and feel much more energized and connected to your body and your loved ones.

2. Write a Thank You Letter…to Your Body

Many of us spend an inordinate amount of time criticizing our body. 

Doing so causes unnecessary stress and suffering. It drains your energy and life force.

My second wish for you is that you begin to adopt a policy of kindness, compassion and acceptance toward your body.

As you count your blessing this Thanksgiving, take time to write a thank you letter to your body. Tell it absolutely everything you’re grateful for.

For example, thank your…

  • heart for beating on its own and for feeling all kinds of love

  • legs for enabling you to walk, run, dance, hike or ski

  • arms for carrying your child or hugging a loved one

  • eyes for seeing all the beauty and goodness in the world

  • nose for smelling blooming flowers, baking bread, brewing coffee and freshly cut grass

  • hands for performing millions of tiny miracles throughout the day, from tying shoes and texting friends to scratching your dog's belly and selecting a perfectly ripe avocado

This simple yet powerful act can put you on the path to creating a more loving, relaxed and peaceful relationship with your body.

For more tips on cultivating an attitude of gratitude, head on over to here.

Healthy Holiday Body Tip: Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

Thanksgiving serves as a wonderful reminder to be grateful for all that's good in your life.  Consider, however, making gratitude a daily practice.

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can have a profound impact on your mood, energy, creativity, productivity, sleep and more.

Count Your Blessings, Not Your Calories
Years ago, every night in bed I would mentally tally the calories I consumed that day.  If I deemed the total count excessive I was a bad girl who must work harder to achieve the perfect diet and body. Not exactly a lovely lullaby for drifting off to dreamland.

Then one day I embraced something Oprah had been extolling for eons; I started a gratitude journal.

When I got into bed, I began counting my blessings instead of my calories. I listed everything that happened that day that I was grateful for, no matter how small. The habit stuck like super glue.

A recent journal entry included not getting hit by a speeding driver, a beautiful sunrise run, my strong legs, easily finding parking (a major feat in San Francisco), locally grown heirloom tomatoes, and my awesome clients. On a rare day that I can't think of anything, I'll simply write "my breath."

Empower Your Wellbeing
If your head is constantly filled with negative thoughts about the shape of your thighs, the size of your belly, the number on the scale, or what you shouldn't have eaten, this creates a stress response in your body. All negative thinking does.

Low-level chronic stress can lead to numerous adverse health conditions, from headaches, insomnia and gastrointestinal issues to depression, high blood pressure and heart disease.

When your mind is in appreciation mode, your body relaxes. A relaxed state is the optimal state for all health and healing.

In fact, research links an attitude of gratitude to improved health, sounder sleep, reduced anxiety and depression, kinder behavior, more rewarding relationships, and greater life satisfaction.

Every Day Gratitude
The holiday season is notorious for triggering our bad habits. Why not make this year different?

Buy yourself a special journal and record five or so things you're grateful for every day. It only takes a minute or two, and the rewards are abundant.

Notice how cultivating gratitude empowers all areas of your life. Witness how focusing on the good things attracts more goodness into your world. You'll soon be grateful for your new healthy habit.