Intuitive Eating During the Holidays

birds eye view of people eating holiday meal

Food can be a delicious part of the holiday season. But holiday foods often come with stress around making “good” food choices and worry about overeating. Thankfully, we can tune into our bodies and mindfully approach our food. This can make it easier to make choices that leave us feeling satisfied, not stuffed.


Balance your blood sugar

One common practice during the holidays is to “save calories” for a big meal by eating little to nothing during the day. Restricting your food can lower your blood sugar. This can result in overeating in your body’s effort to get your blood sugar back to normal. Instead, eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day. Include a source of protein, fat, and carbohydrate whenever you eat (1). This will help your blood sugar be more consistent, allowing you to make food choices that align with your personal goals.

All foods fit

Restricting types of foods can also have an unwanted effect (2). Trying to avoid entire food groups, like sweets, often results in binging on these same foods. Instead, give yourself permission to eat all types of foods. Choose to view less nutrient dense foods as “fun” foods, rather than “bad” or “junk” foods. When you don’t feel guilty or restricted, it’s often actually easier to eat fun foods in moderation.

Be a “professional” taste tester

Just because you’ve given yourself permission to eat all foods doesn’t mean you have to eat everything that comes your way. There are often tons of choices and there can be social pressure to eat certain foods. One great way to navigate a buffet of choices is to model your behavior after taste testers.

When serving yourself, place one to two bites worth of a variety of fun foods on your plate. Take your time to savor each food. You may be surprised to discover that some foods you expected to love just aren’t that satisfying! If you’re still wanting to eat more, now’s the perfect time to take second portions of those foods you really loved. This strategy can help you fill up on satisfying choices rather than mindlessly eating foods you don’t enjoy just because they were on your plate.


Use these tips to not just survive holiday eating, but thrive! Nourish your body with balanced meals and snacks, and truly enjoy those fun foods alongside the people you love.


Looking for more support? The nutrition professionals at Bastyr Center for Natural Health are here to help. Call (206) 834-4100 to schedule an appointment today!



Karen McLellan, M.S., Dietetic Intern


Karen McLellan is a Dietetic Intern at Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. She believes in empowering people to pursue health within their own unique life circumstances. Her clinical interests include intuitive eating and sports nutrition.

1. Healthy Eating Plate. The Nutrition Source. (2021, October 4). Retrieved December 10, 2021, from

2. Polivy, J., Herman, C. P., &; Deo, R. (2010). Getting a bigger slice of the pie. effects on eating and emotion in restrained and unrestrained eaters. Appetite, 55(3), 426–430.