Today we welcome Natalie Thompson, Accredited Practicing Dietitian, to share with us her amazing 3 Step Nutrition Plan for Mums to Thrive this Festive Season.
Christmas. Does it evoke emotions of anxiety? Running yourself ragged from all the social commitments, the obligatory extended family get-together, the endless amounts of food and alcohol. for Mums
It should be a happy time of year to celebrate with family and friends.
Even though it is usually busy socially, it is a great time to slow down and reflect. Reflect personally and professionally on the year that was and the coming year.
Before we jump into about the 3 Step Nutrition Plan for Mums to Thrive this Festive Season, I thought it would be useful to share my philosophy on nutrition as a non-diet Accredited Practising Dietitian so this blog post makes more sense:
- The non-diet or Health At Every Size® approach improves relationships with food and bodies. I view health from a weight-neutral perspective. This means I prioritise health and health-related behaviours and help people to move away from dieting so they can trust their bodies and to respond to their bodies in the most appropriate ways. The reason for this approach is because weight is not a behaviour, it also does not equal health, beauty or opportunity, and there is no effective and safe way to lose weight and keep it off in the long-term.
- Food, eating and nutrition aren’t meant to be complicated.
- Food is for nourishment and also enjoyment.
- No one food or nutrient is the problem or needs to be restricted (allergies/intolerances excepted). Diets (whether you want to call them that or not…essentially anything that tells you what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat is-a-diet)…are big culprits for imposing restrictions. The natural biological reaction to restriction or deprivation is to overeat or binge.
- Moderation/balance comes from reconnecting with your internal body cues or appetite.
- Positive language and an open mind towards food and your body are essential for health. Judging yourself or someone else by what you or they put in their mouth is unhelpful and keeps you stuck dieting or in diet mindset. It is important to remember that you are not any less worthy for eating a particular food or “good” or “bad”. Judging food as “good” and “bad” is a classic diet mindset and leads to judgement of bodies and behaviours. The tip here is to view food as morally neutral. Food is just food. It is not only for physical nourishment. Food has the potential to nourish us physically and emotionally.
3 Step Nutrition Plan for Mums to Thrive this Festive Season
1. Look at the bigger picture (of nutrition)
Christmas is once a year. If you find you’re losing your intuitive eating rhythm, or you find yourself eating differently to usual – possibly more sweets, fewer vegetables or fruits, or whatever the case may be for you, it really isn’t the end of the world.
A good way to get perspective on this topic is to reflect back on how far you’ve come with your nutrition. Compare your previous nutrition behaviours with your new healthier habits. You may find this exercise helps you to let go of guilt around food and eating that has been subconsciously programmed from the dieting culture.
A great analogy which complements this thinking is described below:
You are driving your car from Sydney to Cairns and you get a flat tyre in Brisbane. At this point you might throw your hands up and get annoyed, but you don’t drive back to Sydney to then start your journey north again. You continue your journey where you left off.
This analogy can be applied to your nutrition progress. Refocus, use the “off-track” period as a valuable learning experience and continue on with your positive behaviours until the next challenging situation that arises and hopefully you are better equipped to deal with your new nutrition skills. Yes, there will always be a future challenge!
2. Eat intuitively
Intuitive eating (the ‘how’ to eat) is the process by which humans nourish their bodies naturally and adequately.
You can still enjoy all food, just like you have all year.
Christmas is not a permission slip to eat as much food as you can wherever you can. You “should” give yourself permission to eat all the things throughout the year.
When you give yourself true permission physically and mentally, you are less likely to feel out of control with food and eat more than what you wanted or needed.
The act of giving yourself permission makes food appear less powerful. E.g. If you are not sure what I mean, picture yourself eating at a 5-star buffet day in and day out for a week at every single meal and snack time. Do you think you would feel out of control with food or want to eat all the food by the end of the week? I doubt it.
When we feel like there is a shortage of food like when we diet or do not allow ourselves to eat a particular food, we become desperate and end up eating more than we really want or need.
There usually is no shortage of food on the table at Christmas, why not give yourself full permission to eat food when you really feel like it and in the quantities that are satisfying and make you feel good?
Try asking yourself, “Do I really feel like it now? and “What do I feel like now?” These questions can help you stay focused on what your body needs without eating mindlessly during the festive season and feeling unsatisfied and sick.
Remember overeating occasionally is part of ‘normal eating’. Drop the judgement if you happen to find yourself overeating. It’s ok, you haven’t failed. You can’t fail at non-dieting, because it is not a diet.
3. Let Go of Judgement
Don’t accept judgement around food and eating from yourself or others.
Emotions are usually running high and most people mean well, but if they make comments that do not sit right with you, moving on is the easiest way at this time of year so can enjoy yourself.
People who make these sorts of comments about food and bodies usually have their own food and body issues and are not ready to make changes to their behaviour.
It really isn’t about you. If you feel up to it you may consider approaching the individual privately. Talk about why their comment upset you.
I remember vividly at a Christmas celebration soon after I graduated about how I was eating ice-cream and those yummy chocolate freckles. I received a comment along the lines of, “Oh you shouldn’t be eating that. You are a dietitian!” At the time, I was so shocked at the comment I didn’t know how to respond. It made me realise that there are many people who do not know what dietitians stand for. They also don’t realise how dietitians help people. They are not the food police!
Yes, dietitians eat ice-cream and chocolate and they help their clients to eat these foods in moderation. Like any other food, just for the taste and pleasure of it without guilt.
This non-diet approach to nutrition adds to health.
Just a recap, the 3 Step Nutrition Plan for Mums to Thrive this Festive Season includes:
- Look at the bigger picture of nutrition – Christmas is once a year.
- Eat intuitively – Eat when you are mostly hungry, stop when you are mostly full. Choose foods you mostly feel like.
- Let go of judgement – The judgement of food, bodies, yourself and people’s judgement of you.
Really, this ‘nutrition plan for mums’ is helpful all year round, but is particularly important during this busy time when we are distracted by many things.
Which nutritional tip will you be mindful of over Christmas?
If you are wanting more tips to help you to enjoy food during the festive season, The Ultimate Guide to Guilt-Free Holiday Eating is for you.
Thirty plus dietitian and food therapists from around the world have come together to package up this guide. This guide consists of a collection of inspirational and useful nutrition messages.
Merry Christmas! I wish you and your family a healthy relationship with food and your bodies during this festive season and into the New Year.
Natalie Thompson is a non-dieting Accredited Practising Dietitian . She is passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviours to help improve health, whilst nurturing relationships with food and body.
Natalie enjoys helping women, particularly mums who struggle with nutrition and body image and worry about the impact they have on their children. She helps them discover the joy in eating and make peace with food and their beautiful body whilst being the role model they imagine for their children. She helps mums on compassionately nourishing their mind, body and spirit of themselves and their children.
Connect with Natalie via her website and on social media.