Becoming a Competent Holiday Eater

The holidays are just around the corner and you may have noticed social media full of posts titled “How to Avoid Christmas Weight Gain” or “Tips to Avoid Over Indulgence This Season.” These posts are misleading readers to believe that there are only good foods and bad foods and are putting an unnecessary guilt on enjoying delicious and traditional foods. At PEAR nutrition we take an all foods fit and good relationship with food approach. What does this mean? It means you allow yourself to enjoy all foods in all settings, it is not feeling guilty over going for foods that are portrayed as “bad” (think cupcakes with buttercream frosting, stuffing with Italian sausage, salt and buttery nuts and bolts mixture). It is not labeling foods as good and bad, instead the focus is on foods to eat more often and foods to eat less often. It is also trying new foods, eating with family and friends in a sit down, screen free setting. Elleyn Sater (the guru of developing good relationships with food from a young age) describes this as Eating Competence (1). Eating competence is being comfortable flexible and positive about food. You may be thinking this mindset sounds too good and too easy to actually offer any health benefits. There have been studies to that people that are eating competent are found to:

  • ​Be more active (2)

  • ​Sleep better and longer (3)

  • ​Have better medical profiles and lab tests (4,5)

  • ​Are more positive about eating (6,7)

  • ​Have better physical self-acceptance (3,4,5, 8)

With these health benefits in mind and the season fast approaching we hope you enjoy the food and company your future holiday events have to offer. If you have more questions on how to become a competent eater contact your local dietitian.


(1) Satter EM. Eating Competence: definition and evidence for the Satter Eating Competence Model. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2007;39:S142-S153.

(2) Greene GW, Schembre SM, White AA, et al. Identifying clusters of college students at elevated health risk based on eating and exercise behaviors and psychosocial determinants of body weight. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011;111(3):394-400.

(3) Quick V, Byrd-Bredbenner C, White AA, et al. Eat, sleep, work, play: Associations of weight status and health-related behaviors among young adult college students. Am J Health Promot. 2013:e64-e72.

(4) Lohse B, Psota T, Estruch R, et al. Eating competence of elderly Spanish adults is associated with a healthy diet and a favorable cardiovascular disease risk profile. J Nutr. 2010;140(7):1322-1327.

(5) Psota TL, Lohse B, West SG. Associations between eating competence and cardiovascular disease biomarkers. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2007;39(5 Suppl):S171-178.

(6) Lohse B, Satter E, Horacek T, Gebreselassie T, Oakland MJ. Measuring eating competence: psychometric properties and validity of the ecSatter Inventory. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2007;39(5 Suppl):S154-166.

(7) Krall JS, Lohse B. Cognitive testing with female nutrition and education assistance program participants informs validity of the Satter eating competence inventory. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2010;42(4):277-283.

(8) Clifford D, Linda A, Keeler LA, Gray K, Steingrube A, Neyman Morris M. Weight attitudes predict eating competence among college students. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal. 2010;39:184-193.

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