Navigating the holiday food world

Posted by Jennifer Campoli on November 23rd, 2010
Filed under intuitive eating, Motivation | 4 Comments »

I am still having to remind myself that Thanksgiving is nearly here.

The holidays are here.

After spending over 10 years struggling with how to navigate the food, the weight gain, the guilt, and the shame during the holidays, I thought I would share what has helped me completely change my holiday experience.

One thing we know about holidays is this: they revolve around food. Food brings us together, the dining room table is a place to connect, to laugh, to love. The kitchen is a place to create with family members and friends. The food is typically sweeter, richer, more indulgent, often the beloved foods that remind us of our childhood or they might be foods that we normally do not include in our daily diet.

The result of this?

  • We want FOOD and LOTS of it! The desire for food often increases
  • There is often so much food that it is hard to navigate what to eat, how much, and when without putting our bodies into overload!
  • We tend to ignore our body's signals for hunger, contentment and fullness
  • We check out, go on auto pilot and eat, eat, and EAT!

The final result? Overload, bloating, grogginess, unhappiness, GUILT…plans for the next diet.

Now, how to better approach your day


1. Start your day with one question: what do I want today to be? What is this holiday for and about? What are you thankful for? What do you want to remember at the end of the day? This simple exercise gives you time to focus your thoughts on the holiday YOU want to have.

When I started doing this two Thanksgiving's ago I lost the focus on food. I craved a day where I could soak up the people around me! I walked into the kitchen and smelled the apple pie baking, I saw the homemade pumpkin chocolate chip bread on the counter and for once, for once I didn't start crafting what I could/couldn't eat and when. No, I found my family. I made a cup of coffee and we chatted. We began the day just as I wanted it.

2. Acknowledge that you can have any food you desire! Tell yourself this as often as you need to. Really believe it! It is all there for you, you can taste every piece and yes, you can even go back for more. Believing that food is NOT off limits will do two things: it removes the power and the control of food and then it creates space for you to enjoy your family, friends and loved ones.

I'll never forget Christmas last year. The husband and I were hosting for the first time. Family was bringing food, we were making food. The smells in our house was incredible. My most favorite foods in the entire world were everywhere and finally I could enjoy them! I finally knew that I could have and taste everything. I started with my top favs. As I made my first plate, my body wasn't filled with anxiety of what to do, how much to have. I simply tasted and enjoyed it all!

3. Remember that you can trust your body. It will guide you if you allow it to. Your body can show you when you are hungry, content, satisfied and then stuffed!

This idea can be a tricky one. You see, the food always tastes good. No matter how hungry or how full you are…it is GOOD! Am I right? Sometimes I don't want to be full. Sometimes I don't want to be content. Sometimes my mind still wants more. :) But I've also finally learned that respecting my body means listening to it. But guess what- you can always have more later!


3. Slow down! Savor, enjoy, acknowledge, soak up this day. Take yourself OFF AUTO PILOT. Check in with yourself as often as you can when you are eating- how am I feeling? Is this tasting as good as I want it to? If not, put the fork down! Move on to something else. Am I starting to feel full? Save it for later! Leftovers is one of the greatest parts of the holiday!

4. It is ok if you still overeat! Really, it is okay. Sometimes me still do this. Sometimes we ignore our body, we ignore what feels good. Normal eating sometimes means overeating. Normal eating also means waking up the next morning and trusting that it will know what to do. Normal eating means being kind to yourself rather than harsh. Normal eating does not involve guilt or shame.

I used to be the queen of over eating and then waking up the next day with a brilliant, and I mean brilliant new diet plan. I would start the day with a ton of guilt. I would start the day regretting the day before. In my world it was NEVER ok to overeat. Now? I am more kind to myself. I allow myself to enjoy all foods. I seek balance and variety. I sometimes overeat. I sometimes undereat. And I always listen to my body.


Holidays are different now for me.

Holidays are wonderfully special. They involve food, they involve lots of love and they involve many memories.

How do you navigate the holidays? Any tips that you can share?

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4 Responses to “Navigating the holiday food world”

  1. What a perfect post. I really like how you start it off with really thinking about what the day stands for and focusing our attention on that. Then, tying it into enjoying ourselves guilt free, but still being mindful of our bodies. You're awesome!
    Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun´s last [type] ..back to life with good surprises

  2. Jenn says:

    Thank you girl!!! You have played a HUGE role in the place I am finally at. :)

  3. Susan says:

    Great post and much needed for the holidays!
    Susan´s last [type] ..It’s On Like Donkey Kong

  4. […] sharing this in time for Thanksgiving, but I love these tips from Jenn at Live Well Fit Now about navigating the holiday food world. It's full of great ideas that I hope will carry me through the rest of the holiday […]

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