Gratitude is the process of recognizing the positive and good things we have in our life. Intuitive eating is a self-help paradigm that focuses on building a healthy relationship with food and eliminating diet behavior . The impact of how intuitive eating is changing my thoughts on food and diet brings me to a place where gratitude and intuitive eating combine in the ultimate self-care practice for me this holiday season.
For the first time ever, I feel like it’s really ok to celebrate food and why I enjoy it so much, as well as acknowledge how intuitive eating has changed, and is changing my life.
Starting my intuitive eating journey
Intuitive eating really began for me before I even knew it had a name. I just simply reached a point where I didn’t want to diet anymore. I was tired of the struggle and feeling like a failure. So I simply stopped dieting and restricting and began eating foods that I enjoy while also making a conscious decision to focus on foods that make me feel good.
But many ideas and behavior of dieting are so engrained into my thoughts and feelings that it’s taken a while to unpack it and begin to set diet beliefs aside. This year I decided to create an intuitive eating gratitude list to focus on throughout the holiday season. The purpose is to remind me to be grateful daily and also to remember to stay in tune with my body and intuitive eating when confronted with holiday eating and diet culture.
What’s an intuitive eating gratitude list?
Well, it’s simply a list of things that are somehow related to food, intuitive eating, dieting and similar topics that I am focusing on this year as we enter the holiday season.
The holidays can be hard for any dieter. It starts with Thanksgiving and doesn’t end until January 1st. Some years that stretch can be almost 5-6 weeks long. I remember so many holidays with Weight Watchers where we were asked to decide what we were willing to accept during the holidays; weight loss, weight gain or stay the same. I feel like none of those options were a good choice. In one way or another each of these choices comes with diet and restriction or overeating and guilt. No thanks!
I am looking forward to a holiday season this year where I can enjoy food while working with the principles of intuitive eating. It’s one less thing to worry and stress about giving me more headspace to enjoy the holidays and time with family and friends.
The power of gratitude
Research supports the idea that being grateful and practicing gratitude is good for your mood and your health. According to the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley:
- Practicing gratitude improves your mood and outlook by increasing positive emotions such as optimism, happiness, pleasure and joy.
- Being more grateful reduces negative feelings such as anxiety and depression.
- Gratitude is good for the body. Improving your immune system, lowers blood pressure and makes you more likely to get moving.
- Expressing your gratefulness improves sleep.
My intuitive eating gratitude list
Gratitude for food and the experience of eating
I am thankful for pumpkin pie and all my other holiday favorites!
As an intuitive eater I am fortunate to get to fully enjoy all my favorite dishes this Thanksgiving dinner with absolutely no guilt.
I am thankful for my senses which give me the ability to smell, see and taste the delicious food cooking in the kitchen.
Just like with the pumpkin pie, this holiday I get to fully embrace and enjoy the smells and flavors of delicious food without thinking about the diet I will start the next day to compensate for the food eaten on Thanksgiving.
I am thankful for the opportunity to experience a little piece of other cultures through food.
For me it’s not just about eating the food, but also an opportunity to learn about the ingredients, the history behind dishes and the people creating the food I eat. It’s the BEST way to experience a new culture. And while it’s best to do it through travel, sometimes that isn’t possible. However, many of us can do that right in our home towns thanks to the many immigrants in the US who open up restaurants and markets in our neighborhoods.
Gratitude for people and support
I am thankful for the friends that surround me. Those who never make me feel that I am any less just because I may carry around some extra weight.
Having a solid support system is key. Even if they don’t really understand intuitive eating and how it works, they don’t judge me and that means the world.
When beginning intuitive eating, finding your support system right away may be difficult especially because many people won’t understand you ditching diet culture. Consider joining a group, such as Journey to Health with Intuitive Eating that will provide you with some guidance and support as you begin your intuitive eating journey.
I am thankful for my mom for giving me the opportunity and time to create this space.
It comes with a high price tag and I wish she could be here to see what I am creating. However, deep down in my heart, I know she is here with me all the time.
I am thankful to all the women – dietitians, influencers, public figures, coaches, individuals – who teach, coach and promote intuitive eating. They are out there every day helping to change diet culture, unveiling to the world that a person’s worth is not connected to their appearance.
It’s hard work to cut through all the noise that diet culture brings to us each day – because it is truly everywhere. Once you begin to really embrace intuitive eating, you also begin to see how truly invasive diet culture can be. It’s EVERYWHERE!
I am thankful for all the people who have a part in providing me with food. The local farmers, chefs, cooks, attendants and owners in the markets and stores, staff in restaurants and my friends who sometimes cook for me.
I’ve worked in food service for most of my career. It’s hard work. And most of the local people growing, cooking and serving your food in restaurants don’t make a lot of money for the service they provide. The same goes for the little guy growing fruit and vegetables on his farm so that we can buy it in the grocery store. I’m thankful for them all.
Gratitude for my own experience with intuitive eating
I am thankful that this year I have ditched dieting for good.
In the past, Thanksgiving was sometimes a super difficult holiday. It’s hard to enjoy the US’s biggest food holiday when you’re dieting. In the past, I’ve spent time before the holiday planning exactly how I could fit in eating all my favorite foods. But even when I gave myself permission to eat, it came along with tons of guilt and knowing that the day after, the diet would resume.
I am thankful for my health.
Healthy at every size is a belief that your health is not connected to your weight. Overall, I am super healthy and I have been for years despite receiving a lecture about my weight from my doctor each and every year, despite having close to perfect blood work results. Now I am focusing on my health everyday without equating it to weight loss. I move because it makes me feel good and I choose foods for the energy they give my body as well as the pleasure I receive when eating them.
I am thankful for the ease of all the negative food thoughts in my head. The constant beating myself up because I ate a forbidden food.
OK, I am still a work in progress in this area but for sure I don’t have the anxiety I had before about overeating certain foods. I don’t have to have an entire negotiation in my mind before eating an ice cream cone. I can simply decide to eat the ice cream and focus on enjoying the flavor and texture.
I am thankful for my body which is able to tell me what it needs, whether it’s food, sleep, quiet time or exercise.
Tuning into my body has been a gamechanger. Paying attention to how my body feels after eating enables me to make the best decisions for my body when it comes to deciding what to eat. But more than that I can sense when my body needs movement, sleep or maybe just a break. I can feel my body getting stronger or my sleep improve when I get moving and that is more motivation for me to keep at it than creating a calorie deficit.
Creating a positive mindset with gratitude and intuitive eating
Focusing on gratitude can be a powerful tool to create more positive thoughts and feelings. It’s a powerful experience learning to appreciate food, my own body and intuitive eating at the beginning of this holiday season.
If you are interested in learning more about intuitive eating, join me in my new Facebook group, Journey to Health with Intuitive Eating. It’s a place to learn about intuitive eating, find support on your intuitive eating journey and discover that there are people out there just like you who are fed up with dieting and all the frustrations it brings.
If you have any specific questions about intuitive eating send me a message and I will gladly answer. To send your message, use the contact form or the chat button in the bottom of the screen.
Photo credit for featured Image: Woman photo created by jcomp – www.freepik.com