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{Note from Jessica: Today’s post is shared by my good friend, Lauren, author of Lauren Fowler. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and yoga teacher who promotes a non-diet approach to nutrition and health. She wants everyone to connect to their bodies intuitive wisdom rather than following diets. She encourages the tools of intuitive eating and health at every size. Stop by to read more about nutrition, intuitive eating, heart-based health, and yoga.}

I'm always so excited by the time the holidays come around each year. I'm filled with happy memories of family, delicious food, music (I'm one of those people who LOVES Christmas music), and holiday cheer.

Yet, of course, there are times where the holidays become stressful. For many, food is an easy and convenient outlet for stress. If this is you, you probably rationalize that you ‘deserve' a few extra treats because it's the holidays, then get upset with yourself after indulging. Or after one treat, you don't care and eat everything in sight from the holidays until New Year's. For others who are health-conscious, the holidays may seem stressful because you want to enjoy holiday food but know you shouldn't.

This year, I want you to find that balance between really enjoying holiday food without stressing out about it and worrying about your New Year's resolution diet. Here's how:

Set the Intention to Find Balance

Simply set an intention this holiday season to find balance in all you do. Seek out balance with food to find that sweet spot between savoring food without feeling tired or with a stomachache afterwards. Keep the idea of balanced meals in your life by prioritizing whole foods most of the time and making sure meals have high-quality proteins, fats, nutrient-dense carbohydrates, and plenty of antioxidant rich veggies, spices, or herbs. By eating regular meals filled with whole foods, you'll be nourishing your body to have energy to enjoy the holidays.

Savor Food.

Yes, this is where I give you full permission to enjoy whatever holiday food you want or love. Often, holiday foods like sweet potato casserole or pumpkin pie only come once a year, so enjoy it. The key is to really savor it.

Choose the foods you love, and sit down with your plate. Look at the food, notice how good it looks or smells. Taste it. Eat it slowly. Savor it. Recognize the point where you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally satisfied. Often times these foods are true comfort and pleasure foods, and you may find satisfaction after a few bites or one piece of pie.

I know all I need is a small piece of chocolate pie to feel really satisfied if I truly savor it. If I rush through it without even tasting it, I'll probably go back for more. When you slow down and savor food, you'll truly satisfy your cravings.

Eat it…and move on.

If you struggle with feeling guilty about indulging in holiday food, this is the key step for you. If you are truly savoring your food and giving yourself full permission to enjoy it, then there's no reason to feel guilty. If you do, just move on.

Food is fuel, but it's also meant to be enjoyed socially and for pleasure. Let go of labels of food as “good” or “bad” or “healthy” or “unhealthy.” Eat the foods that make your body feel good, but allow yourself to find comfort and pleasure in food as well. Instead of overanalyzing and stressing, just savor food, then move on until the next time you feel hungry.

Check in with your BODY.

As you eat large holiday meals, check in with your body. Notice if you actually can taste or LIKE the foods you're eating. Oftentimes, we pack mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and other foods on our plate without even considering if we want or like these foods. Try it, and notice how it tastes and feels in your body.

Yes feeling stuffed is normal at holidays, but you can decide to stop at the point when you're feeling satisfied or full rather than feeling uncomfortably stuffed and sleepy. Fill your body with foods that taste good and feel good for your body.

Slow Down, Chew, & Digest your Food

If you have a delicious holiday meal in front of you, give your tastebuds the joy of tasting it. Like I've mentioned in nearly every sentence here, SAVOR your food. When you savor your meal, you naturally slow down. By slowing down and chewing your food, you're improving your digestion.

You're giving your body the chance to recognize the point of full or satisfied. You're also saving yourself some unpleasant digestive symptoms like heartburn or bloating by giving your body the best chance for good digestion.

Remember: Slow down & savor.

It all comes down to a simple mantra you may want to keep in mind this holiday season. Slow down and savor. Of course this applies for food, but it works for the entire holiday season. You can choose not to get sucked into the holiday busyness and rush and slow down to enjoy the holidays this year. When you let yourself slow down and savor the season, stress reduces, so you won't need food for a quick rush of comfort and pleasure.

Have a happy + healthy holiday season!

Let me know how you can slow down and savor your holiday food or the entire season in the comments below or on social media.

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