top of page

Gentle Nutrition

If the idea of practicing gentle nutrition around celebratory foods or party foods sounds impossible, this post is for you! Summertime can be particularly tough around activities such as holidays, barbecues, family reunions, graduation parties, and more. Please keep in mind that if any of these examples do not resonate with you or you do not feel ready to implement gentle nutrition then that’s OK too!

For starters, what is gentle nutrition? This concept comes from Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works, the book by Elyse Resch, MS, RDN, CEDS-S, Fiaedp, FADA, FAND and Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S. If you’re not familiar with Intuitive Eating (IE) it’s a framework based on 10 principles with the tenth and final principle being honor your health with gentle nutrition.

As Evelyn says, gentle nutrition means to “make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency based on one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters – progress not perfection is what counts”.

So here are some ways to think about implementing gentle nutrition around a party spread or gathering:

  1. Eat enough beforehand. Knowing that honoring your hunger by eating consistently throughout the day versus waiting to eat later in the day at the gathering is a way of honoring your health and naturally bringing in more nutrient and energy density to that day.

  2. Pick what sounds satisfying first and foremost. Then consider where/if you can add more nutrient density to the meal. Say you know you want a hot dog at the barbecue. Could you add some sauerkraut as a topping for extra probiotics and fiber? Are there whole grain buns available? Can you grab some watermelon for extra hydration? Additionally, think about all of the side offerings and what could help to diversify your plate by adding more colors and nutrients! (Please remember if implementing gentle nutrition feels restrictive or confusing for you it may not mean you’re ready for it and that’s 100% OK!)

  3. Tune into and honor your fullness. When there’s a lot of options at an event it can feel overwhelming or like you need to take advantage of everything in one sitting. If that doesn’t offer you a comfortable level of fullness and satiety, know that you can opt out of offerings for more food at any time. A polite “no thank you” should suffice! If possible you could ask the host to package something up for you to take home to enjoy at another time. Example script: “Thank you so much for having us over for dinner. Everything was delicious! I’m comfortably full right now so I haven't had a chance to try your homemade peach pie yet, but I’d gladly take a slice home to enjoy at another time!”

  4. Hydrate. Hydration is an important aspect of taking care of yourself especially in warmer months. As mentioned above, foods such as fruits and vegetables can be hydrating, as well as beverages like water, lemonade, juice, and electrolyte beverages (such as Gatorade or powdered options) if you need an extra boost! Beverages such as coffee and tea while not entirely “dehydrating” (more of a myth) can act as a diuretic meaning you’ll use the bathroom more frequently and expel at a much quicker rate than other liquids. And keep in mind alcoholic beverages are a diuretic as well and can cause a slew of other negative effects if you are choosing to imbibe.

Hoping this helps for any upcoming summer gatherings! Remember, implementing gentle nutrition is a lifelong skill and you don’t have to have it “all figured out” at once, but continue to tune in and connect to what feels right to you!


bottom of page