This interview was so fun! Claire Chewning is a registered dietitian, and she also helps women with intuitive eating. She has some great tips and holiday intuitive eating hacks we can all use. Our conversation included thoughts on how to handle comments from family and friends, the so-called “sugar addiction”, and ways to implement self-care. Let’s dive in!
Just a reminder – this month I’m donating 10% of December’s profits to The Breasties, an amazing non-profit that is dedicated to supporting young women impacted by breast and reproductive cancers. This cause is near and dear to my heart, as my own mom passed away from breast cancer. Interested? Get started here.
Claire’s Path to Intuitive Eating
Claire shares that she knew very early on what she wanted to do in life. Her own family was very positively food-centered, and she attributes that to her own interest in pursuing a food-based career. Because of her personality, and her own desire to start a family one day, she ruled out being a chef pretty quickly. Instead, she elected to pursue a role as a dietician.
Her nutrition coursework, along with her desire to create a “perfect” meal plan and be a “perfect” eater, started to create a rules-based mindset. Food began to be either “good” or “bad”. Claire realized that her dietician training was causing her to lose her own positive relationship with food. All the joy was seeping away! Around this time, she discovered the Intuitive Eating book. With the realization that a food relationship could be joyous, fun, and intuitive (just like the one she grew up with), she knew she needed to pursue intuitive eating as a career.
Holiday Intuitive Eating Hacks
1. Reframe Your Thinking
The decisions you make around the holidays really depend on who you are, how long you’ve been eating intuitively, and what your own goals are.
The holidays can be a great season to learn more about who you are. You might also learn more about what you might want to work on next in your food relationship. Rather than focusing on food as a “temptation”, or trying to increase your “will power”…what if you celebrated with joy and had fun?
You can do this by reframing your thinking!
Try to replace this: “Oh no, there will be so much food around.” With this: “Oh wow, there will be so much amazing food around. I might learn more about what area of my food journey I still want to work on.” Feeling a lot of stress and anxiety about certain foods can be a sign that you aren’t actually giving yourself full permission to eat intuitively.
2. Stop “Saving” Your Calories
When you try to “save” calories for a big meal, event, or party, you tend to go into them feeling super hungry. Which leads to overeating or binging…because you are hungry! Your body needs food, and making yourself ravenous before an event doesn’t help at all.
When you ditch this mindset and give yourself permission to fuel your body throughout the day, you’ll find you feel much better. Restricting and then binging doesn’t help anyone, especially yourself.
When you’re in the presence of a large amount of food, you absolutely have permission to eat it. It’s not going anywhere, and you can enjoy it. If you’re nearing the end of an eating experience because you feel full, why not pack a plate for later? Or bring some leftovers home? Rather than creating a feast or famine mentality, remind yourself that you can enjoy these foods at any time.
3. The Sugar Addiction Myth (No need for a cleanse!)
The holiday season tends to prompt a wave of “cleansing”. People often insist their systems are overloaded with sugar, or that they have a “sugar addiction”, and their go-to system for “fixing” this problem is to do a cleanse.
Our bodies are equipped with a natural detoxification system (the liver and kidneys!). We don’t need to hop on the detox bandwagon or purchase a cleanse in order to clean toxins or sugar from our system.
Actually, when it comes to sugar addictions, it’s normal to feel like you *might* have one because of the messaging we’re all inundated with. However, you aren’t going to be addicted to something that is necessary for survival. Sugar breaks down to glucose in the body, which is the most readily available source of energy out there. Our bodies love it!
When we do a cleanse or detox, we ultimately become MORE fixated on sugary foods. Why? Because we just removed a source of energy that our body wants for survival. There is no need to “cut out” sugar (or anything else) in an attempt to detox.
4. Dealing with Family Comments & Diet Talk
At some point, commenting on other people’s bodies became commonplace. In what world is that okay?
First things first – make sure you aren’t the one promoting body criticism or conversations.
Making comments about someone else or their body isn’t necessary. Honestly, it just doesn’t concern you! The only comments helpful are those that can be fixed in less than five seconds (You have spinach in your tooth, a tag on your shirt, etc). If it’s anything else, it’s not really your business. So why comment? It’s not helpful or uplifting.
But what if someone makes comments to you?
If you feel safe having this conversation, you can inform them that your body isn’t a topic for conversation. It is completely acceptable to let people know that your body isn’t up for discussion.
However, if you don’t feel comfortable having that conversation (or it’s someone you don’t feel you can gently confront), you can use the validation route. If Aunt Karen is pushing her new keto diet on you, try “I’m so happy you found something you’re enjoying. I don’t think that’s something that will be beneficial for me right now.” And then pivot the conversation into a new vein!
By steering the conversation away, you can communicate that you don’t have a desire to talk about the topic of weight/appearance/diets.
5. Holiday Self-Care
The holiday season can be depleting on our energies. Many of us are already pretty busy, and adding in all the holiday elements can start to make you feel that you’re being pulled SO many different directions.
That’s okay. Different seasons require different things. Sometimes priorities just need to shift a bit for a time. However, if you’ve shifted so much that you’re no longer caring for yourself, you need to reevaluate.
Hit “Pause”, take a step back, and ask yourself what one thing you really need, or what you could do for yourself. Maybe you need to fill up your water bottle, make a healthy snack, taking a 10 minute nap, or something else that would feel good. The goal is to communicate to your body “I see you, I hear you, I’m listening.”
I seriously enjoyed this interview with Claire, and I hope you found it helpful in your intuitive eating journey. Remember that if you sign up to work with me this month, 10% of my profits will be donated to The Breasties!
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