How are you after the fall holidays?
If these are your first holidays on your Intuitive Eating (IE) journey, they can be challenging. They can be challenging anyway, even if you are not new to IE. There are the short/dark/dreary days, intense emotions (both positive and negative) that can come from holidays, and likely stress (costumes/outfits, decorations, cleaning, hosting, shopping, etc.).
Last holiday season I was relatively new to IE. I was definitely giving myself permission to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, but it wasn't without a bit of anxiety and fear. I've recently been learning a lot about how eating with anxiety/guilt/shame/fear impacts your digestion, and how food feels in the body.
This year, I've felt much more calm. The clothing sizes stopped increasing. I am SO much more connected to my body. I trust my body. It feels like my body is beginning to trust me.
I've always known that I'm much more of a salty than sweet person. Fries and chips were some of my favorite play foods when I was little. However, in the past I've enjoyed snickers, PB cups, and peanut M&Ms at Halloween time. This year, I didn't have any candy before, during, or after Halloween. I certainly would have if I wanted it, but it never appealed to me. It occurred to me that historically, I'd eat quite a bit of candy on the day of Halloween. I recognize that as "Last Chance/Last Supper" mentality. The diet mentality of "This is the DAY that it's acceptable - get it all while you can." I now know and fully believe that it's acceptable any day/any time, and candy is as acceptable as an apple or broccoli. Obviously there are foods that are more nutritious than others, but there are not good or bad foods. You are not good or bad depending on what you eat.
On Thanksgiving, I thoroughly enjoyed the jalapeño poppers, pasta salad, green bean casserole, corn pudding, creamed peas, brussel sprouts with balsamic vinaigrette, and the wine. I'm pretty sure it was the first Thanksgiving in my whole life that I didn't have multiple pieces of pie. I didn’t have any. I certainly would have if I wanted some. I planned on it. I thought I would. It just didn't appeal to me.
I remember last December I was enjoying some white wine while making white chocolate peppermint cookies. I'm not a big cookie fan, but those things are DELICIOUS! Especially when they come out warm and gooey. As I worked towards making peace with this particular treat, I ate so many that I didn't feel good. I've since dramatically strengthened my ability to identify not only what appeals to me and tastes good, but also what and how much feels good.
Other recent observations: I'm having dinner leftovers for breakfast more often. . Sometimes, it's the only thing that sounds good to me when I'm hungry in the morning (NO, I'm not pregnant🤣). I can also comfortably and easily open a container of hummus and not finish the entire container. Not that I wouldn't allow myself to enjoy the whole thing if that's what it took to feel satisfied. I just find myself comfortably satisfied with 1/4 or 1/2 of the container more often than not. This is something that I never would have thought was possible.
Our bodies know what they need. However, it can take a long time to learn how to listen to our bodies if we have put them on "silent mode" as a result of diet culture. The longer they were silenced, the longer it may take to re-connect. I suspect that many of us think (my former self included): "This all sounds well and good for other people. Unfortunately, it's just not possible for me. I must be broken - the signals no longer work." For me, it was SO worth the effort to really put in the work and time to try. It takes a tremendous amount of patience and self-compassion...but it's possible.
My husband and I had the opportunity to go to Kauai for our anniversary last month…WITHOUT KIDS! It could not have been any more blissfully fantastic…except if we just had two more days! I have been to Hawaii six times - this was our fifth time together. Every big trip I’ve been on (Hawaii or elsewhere), I’ve gotten my nails done for the trip. That has always been a part of my vacation preparations. There’s the shopping, the packing, and the mani/pedi. I happened to get really sick leading up to this anniversary trip, and I just couldn’t get it done. I was super bummed.
The pretty nails weren’t the only thing that I didn’t do in preparation for this trip. I have never been to Hawaii (except when I knew I was pregnant with my daughter), without an intensely restrictive diet + over-exercising, leading up to departure. NYC for my birthday last spring, was the first big trip that I’ve gone on without diet preparations, followed by Palm Springs last August. However going to Hawaii as an Intuitive Eater who respects and appreciates my body (most of the time)…was extra special.
I didn’t have the stress, anxiety and exhaustion that comes with traveling with kids. I also didn’t have the stress, anxiety and exhaustion that comes from worrying about food, weight gain, shame, guilt, etc. I was a billion percent present with my husband, the beautiful scenery, and the fun activities that we had the privilege to enjoy.
We went on a coastal hike where I was taking in the gorgeous flowers, the colors of the ocean water below us, the sea turtle we could see from the cliff, and the surfers in the distance. It was a relatively short hike. In the past, I would have been so consumed with thoughts of the hike not being long enough to be “worth it,” or feeling lazy for not doing something more strenuous.
We spent two days on my favorite beach in the world (so far) - Hanalei Bay. The time flew by as we relaxed on the beach, swam, and took in the beauty around us. Prior to this trip, the last time that I was on that beach, I was frustrated that I couldn’t wear my Fitbit in the water to log all of my activity. I no longer wear a Fitbit or any related tracking device.
We went on a tubing adventure on a sugarcane plantation that was so fun, it felt like I was a kid again. I brought five bathing suits and wore them all confidently. In fact, I think I felt more comfortable in my bathing suits this trip, than I did on our last Kauai trip when I was significantly smaller. We laughed and laughed. We met lots of neat people. We ate delicious food. I read a fun page-turner of a book. We dreamed of island living.
There wasn’t a moment during or after the trip that I felt like I would have had a better experience had I gotten my nails done, or punished my body through diets/food rules prior to the vacation. I guarantee my husband didn’t think twice about my nails, and he very much appreciates my current body. I experienced more, I laughed more, I saw more, and I lived more because of the peace that eventually comes with rejecting the diet mentality.
Tiffany was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She lives with her husband, kids, and chocolate lab. Her favorite vacations so far (beyond camping in the family motorhome), have been to Kauai, Key West, New York City, and Sayulita. She looks forward to expanding that list!
A heartfelt thanks to Julie G Photography.