‘Tis the season where sweets treats are available almost everywhere we go. This can also be a time where many are filled with anxiety – especially those who have or are planning to start a “diet.”

It’s that time of the year where people are exposed to indulgent foods, but are also trying to lose weight. Many consider themselves “good” if they refrain from the “bad” food (“bad” as in processed with low nutrient density). We think that if we eat an “unhealthy” food, we ruined our plan and begin to feel guilty. We live in a culture that highly values physical appearance over wellness, and it needs to be addressed.

I believe in the concept of intuitive eating (also known as listening to one’s body) to help one refrain from the diet mentality. Intuitive eating is an approach created to help people heal from the obsessive dieting. People who constantly diet suffer consequences such as restriction that leads to binging and not trusting oneself with food. Furthermore, according to the authors that wrote the book Intuitive Eating, A Revolutionary Program That Works, an intuitive eater is defined as a person who “makes food choices without experiencing guilt or ethical dilemma, honors hunger, respects fullness and enjoys the pleasure of eating.” Below are some tips on how to eat intuitively this season, as well as tips to lose weight without partaking in a fad diet (which is an unsustainable weight-loss program).

5 Tips for Eating Intuitively

1. Honor Your Hunger: Eat when you are hungry and respect when you are full. Keep your body adequately fed so you do not binge eat later. It may also help to eat slowly and mindfully so you do not push yourself to feeling discomfort (but if that happens, life will go on!)

2. Make Peace with Food: If you tell yourself you should not have a certain food, you may feel deprived, build cravings, and then binge. My advice: if you want a certain food, eat it. If you do not want the food, you do not have to have it. However, fruits and vegetables are so important, so try to get used to eating them. If you do not like a specific kind of fruit or vegetable raw and plain, find a recipe to doll it up so your taste buds enjoy them. Practice listening to your body!

3. Honor Feelings without Using Food: It can be easy to try to find comfort and satisfaction through eating food. However, food will not fix any of these feelings in the long term. Try to find the root of the problem and ask the question: why am I eating right now?

4. Honor your Body and Health: It is crucial to respect your body and feel good about who you are. Do not be overly critical of yourself. If you want to change something, do it out of an act of self-love rather than judgement. It is also important to remember there is no such thing as a perfect diet or body and that what you eat overtime makes a huge difference.

5. Exercise: Exercise because it feels good and will benefit you now and in the long term rather than to just lose weight. There are so many options when it comes to exercise!

5 Practical Tips on Losing (and Maintaining) Weight

• Fad diets may work for a short amount of time, but it’s likely because you are losing weight from water and lean muscle rather than body fat. It can be hard to keep up with demands of a strict diet, so its likely you will gain back the weight already lost. Remember: you want to control your diet and not have it control you. If you want (or need to) lose weight, I encourage it not to be through fad dieting; rather, make lifestyle changes such as the points below.

1. Eat breakfast daily and do not skip meals.

2. Exercise on a regular basis.

3. Eat a variety of foods, as you will be more likely to get all necessary nutrients.

4. Try to eat healthy fats (examples would be avocados, nuts, and seeds).

5. Limit liquid calories by limiting soda and alcohol.

Do not get sucked in to diet culture this season! Eat intuitively, enjoy life, and honor yourself.

Katelyn Kruger is a student studying dietetics at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Her parents live in St. Peter.

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