10 Tips to Mindful Holiday Eating

November 18, 2008

gaining-weightCan you remember back in January, after stepping on the scale, that you wished you hadn’t had that last piece of pie, the extra gravy, or that cup of eggnog? You were not alone! Studies show that the average American gains one to two pounds during the holiday season. Although that may not seem like a lot, each year adds up and can contribute to a lot of excess weight. But you can avoid this if you stay mindful of your eating this holiday season. Follow these simple tips for having a healthy holiday season, and come January, perhaps the only wish you’ll have is that you have a sweetheart on Valentine’s day!

1. Acknowledge that the holidays may not be the ideal time to try to lose weight. Try setting a more realistic goal to maintain weight.

2. Stay in-tune with your hunger. Don’t let the busyness and stressfulness of the holidays distract you from paying attention to your body’s internal cues. Let your physical hunger and satiety cues guide your decision to start and stop eating. Try to stick to your regular eating routine to avoid under and over eating.

3. Pay attention to self-talk, such as “I’ll skip breakfast and lunch today because I know I’ll make up for it later at the holiday dinner.” This way of thinking usually leads to overeating later. Start your day with a healthy breakfast which includes whole grains, fruit, dairy, and protein foods like eggs or peanut butter. Small snacks throughout the day can also help to avoid eating too much later.

holidaycandy4. Pay attention to your environment. If you notice that every year your office keeps treats around during the holidays, try planning ahead by bringing healthy snacks to work to avoid unnecessary indulgences. DO allow yourself to try a small amount of your favorite foods because you shouldn’t feel deprived.

5. Acknowledge your responses to food. Eat foods that you are know are both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body. If you already know that you don’t like mindful-eatingthe taste of sweet potato pie, then, don’t eat it. Or, if you always look forward to your sweetness of your Grandmother’s double fudge brownies every year, then, don’t deprive yourself of it. Chances are that you’ll be happier and more satisfied because you chose to eat ONLY the foods that you know are pleasing to your body.

6. Acknowledge that there is no right or wrong way to eat during the holidays, but that everyone experiences food uniquely based on their own awareness.

latke7. Stay aware of the familial and cultural practices related to food. For example, during Hannukah, Jews traditionally eat potato latkes and other foods cooked in oil to remind them of the oil that burned for eight days. On Christmas Eve, my friends’ family, customarily drinks apple cider. Focusing on a food’s connection to family or cultural traditions, can help you to appreciate it’s meaning and helps take the focus off “good” “bad” eating.

8. Stay in the moment. When you choose to eat mindfully, you point your awareness to the whole experience of eating on a moment-by-moment basis. For example: Strive to choose foods that you know are pleasing for you in that moment, focus on the taste, smell, texture and appearance of the food in front of you; and check in with your hunger level before, during, and after eating.

wine9. If you like to celebrate the holidays with alcohol, try to stay mindful of how much you drink. The more alcohol you drink, the more difficult this will become. ☺ It’s a good idea to eat something before you drink alcohol because drinking on an empty stomach can lead to overeating and overdrinking.

10. Don’t forget to move! Even though it’s a busy time of year, the importance of runner1maintaining your exercise regimen is central to maintaining your pre-holiday health!!!

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