The Holiday Season is a wonderful time filled with family, friends, good times, and great foods. Many find themselves stressing over how holiday goodies may affect their health and fitness goals. This is the perfect time to practice the principles of intuitive eating.

The first step is to understand we eat because we’re hungry, but also when we’re bored, stressed, depressed, or celebrating. When you eat for reasons other than hunger, you find yourself in a vicious cycle of gaining weight, dieting, losing weight, quitting the diet, and repeating.

Intuitive eating allows us to enjoy the holiday festivities without shame or guilt while still maintaining our health and fitness goals. 

Bob Hoffman, local Personal Trainer at NW Personal Trainer, presented a workshop recently summarizing the following principles highlighted in the book “Intuitive Eating – A revolutionary anti-diet approach” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. 

Reject the Diet Culture

Intuitive eating requires you to NOT focus on weight loss and dieting. This approach understands that diets don’t work in the long term. Most diets fail, causing people to regain weight so it’s not a successful solution. 

Honor Our Hunger

Intuitive eating requires you to listen to your body’s hunger cues. If you are hungry, eat something. If you don’t eat and as a result become ravenous, you will overeat. Instead, as you start to feel hungry, ask yourself “what do I feel like eating?” or “what does my body need right now?” Intuitive eating involves mindful eating. This means that you eat with all 5 senses. You focus on eating slowly, taking smaller bites, putting down your utensils in between bites and taking the time to savor the taste, texture, smell, and appearance of the food. Allow the time for your body to send the message that you are full. You eat with no distractions such as TV or your cell phone, so you are better able to listen to your body’s cues. 

Make Peace with Food

With intuitive eating, no food is off limits. You don’t restrict any food. You give yourself permission to eat what you really want. Experience demonstrates that if you deprive yourself of the items that you really want and crave, you will end up binging and then suffer from guilt. When you give yourself permission to eat all foods, it removes the shame and urgency associated with those taboo foods.

Challenge the Food Police

Silence the voices that tell you that you’re good or bad based on what you eat. Remove the judgement that categorizes food as good or bad. A healthy, balanced approach can include all foods in moderation. You don’t have to say “I will never eat that” instead you can say “I’ll enjoy that once per week or once per month” or “I’ll enjoy a small piece everyday” or whatever works for you.

Feel Your Fullness

Learn to connect more deeply with your body’s signals. Listen for your body’s cues that you are no longer hungry. Ask yourself ‘are you actually hungry?’ and ‘are you sufficiently satiated?’ When attending dinners, honor your fullness and be ok with saying ‘No thank you’ when someone is pushing food on you multiple times. It’s not your responsibility to make someone happy by overeating. 

Discover the Satisfaction Factor

When you eat what you really want, it’s satisfying. The Diet Culture removes pleasure in eating. We feel guilty if we eat what we want so instead, we’ll often substitute with something less appealing and end up not truly being satisfied. We’ll end up overeating other foods because we didn’t satisfy what we really wanted. Instead, if you’re really craving something, indulge, enjoy, and remove the guilt. You have the right to enjoy your meal without feeling guilty or worrying about how much exercise you’ll need to do to offset the caloric intake.  

Cope with Your Emotions Without Using Food

Find ways to comfort, nurture, distract and resolve your issues without using food. When you’re feeling anxious, lonely, bored and/or angry, expand your toolbox of other ways to cope with those emotions. 

Respect Your Body

Your body deserves to be treated with dignity. Avoid being so critical. Appreciate your body and all its incredible abilities. Love your body. Love yourself. We each have a unique body and we should learn to appreciate diverse bodies. 


Find the joy in movement. Do something active that you enjoy doing whether it’s walking with a friend, dancing, hiking in the outdoors…Include cardio, strength and be active with others. You always feel so better afterwards.

Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition

Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds. Eat in a way that assures you consume all the required macronutrients and micronutrients to achieve optimal health. Recognize and take note of how your body feels after eating certain foods and quantities. It’s about progress, moderation, and balance, not perfection.

Heal your relationship with food. Don’t strive for perfection. There is no failure, shame, or guilt in Intuitive Eating. Pause, observe the signals, and learn to enjoy eating again. 

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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