The holidays can sometimes be a challenging time for a variety of reasons—loss, especially of loved ones, stress, financial strain, and for me, an abundance of triggers, binging, and empty promises of new diets.  However, the holidays also bring some of the most special, spiritually strengthening, and unifying times of my life.  And yet, for as long as I can remember, I cannot recall ever having a holiday without the bitter memories of overeating to the point of sickness, and disgust for my body, and in my view, a bone-gnawing display of weakness. 

But, that is going to change this year—after being engaged in Intuitive Eating for almost 6 months now, I feel like I have a real shot at having a wonderful holiday not haunted by shame and binging.  And here’s how I’m going to do it (I’ll be sure to give a full report once the holidays are over.)  Below is a blog post by one of the author’s of Intuitive Eating, Evelyn Tribole, reproduced with her permission, while the Italics are my own thoughts and ideas. 

Intuitive Eater’s Holiday Bill of Rights

by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD

What if peace on earth could begin at the dinner table? Imagine experiencing an inner peace, free from incessant worry about what to eat. It’s hard to enjoy the holidays when you are preoccupied with eating or worried about what to say to relatives who have an annual tradition of telling you what and how to eat.

Consider your Intuitive Eating Bill of Rights, as we enter the holiday season, to help you foster inner peace with food, mind and body.

1. You have the right to savor your meal, without cajoling or judgment, and without discussion of calories eaten or the amount of exercise needed to burn off said calories. 

I certainly know that I won’t be starting any conversations about calories or exercise, but that has never been a problem for me since starting Intuitive Eating.  So, I think the real clincher for this “right” is to either know how to gently but firmly confront loved ones who seem bent on discussing these things over meals or ignore them and deal with their inevitable triggers.

 In my case, I feel my loved ones to be very respectful of Intuitive Eating and therefore my response might be, “Hey, guys, I would really appreciate if we could nix the calorie and fattening talk while we eat.  Is that okay?”  Now, I think I will face some inevitable triggers anyway and I am still in the process of pinning down my mantras, so I’ll post when I’ve finished it, but for now, start thinking about your own mantras, positive thoughts, etc. that you will use to combat the holiday triggers, especially from loved ones.  Here’s my starting point though: “Wow, this trigger is really hard; I want to revert back to feeling shame and disgust and overeating.  But I’m not the same person now.  I am learning to embrace Intuitive Eating and I can get through this.”    

2. You have the right to enjoy second servings without apology.

3. You have the right to honor your fullness, even if that means saying “no thank you” to dessert or a second helping of food.

I don’t know about you, but this one is going to be a hard one for me because the food at Thanksgiving is certainly food that I don’t have all the time so there is a lot of the “last supper” mentality.  So, here’s my plan for this: “This food is really good.  It’s been so long since I’ve had it.  I know I’m really full, but my mouth wants more.  I know I feel like I may not have this food again for a long time, but if I want to I can make more of it.  I would rather savor what I have had than feel sick and disgusted later.  I know everyone is having pie and ice cream now, but I’m not ready and I will have it when I am hungry again.  I can do this.  I want to remember this holiday for what it is about—giving thanks and being together, not shame and bingeing.”    

4. It is not your responsibility to make someone happy by overeating, even if it took hours to prepare a specialty holiday dish. 

For my family, this “right” might go something like this: overeating is not synonymous with Thanksgiving, and other holidays.  I don’t have to eat more food at this meal than at any regular meal, no matter how much time it took to prepare. 

5. You have the right to say, “No thank you,” without explanation, when offered more food.

I always feel like I have to give an explanation when I don’t want something, and though at times it is appropriate and helpful, I do not need one when saying no to food.  I have spent years using excuses like “I’m full” when I’m really not, or “I don’t like that” when I really do in order to not eat food in front of others and instead binge on it later.  So, for this holiday season, I can say “No thank you” without needing an explanation or excuse.  Yay!

6. You have the right to stick to your original answer of “no”, even if you are asked multiple times. Just calmly and politely repeat “No, thank you, really.”

7. You have the right to eat pumpkin pie for breakfast.

Remember, no one, except for you, knows how you feel, both emotionally and physically. Only you can be the expert of your body, which requires inner attunement, rather than the external, well-meaning, suggestions from family.

Copyright © 2010 by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD Published at

•Rights to Reproduce: You may reproduce this post, as long as you leave it unchanged, you don’t charge for it, and you include the entire copyright statement. Please let us know you have used it by sending a website link or an electronic copy to Etribole at gmail dot com.

DISCLAIMER: The information is intended to inform readers and is not intended to replace specific advice from a health care professional.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s