It’s holiday time, and when we think of the holidays we think of food. Holidays may be spent with family or friends and what do you usually do? That’s right, you eat together. During the holidays you can and should still eat some of your favorite foods. Instead of more food rules during the holidays, try using your mind. Mindfulness simply stated is paying attention. Mindfulness can be a powerful tool to help you control weight and blood glucose. Try these 6 tips to create mindfulness during the holidays:
- Take time to plan for meals. Think about some of your favorite holiday foods. Think about the foods you really want to eat, and which foods you could skip when planning meals. During the holidays there are usually plenty of starchy foods-think potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, so plan meals around the vegetable. These aren’t bad foods but try creating balance with vegetables. When eating a meal, serve from the kitchen and not the dining room table. This helps to reduce what could be mindless second portions by just moving the food out of site.
- Allow time to relax before eating. Even with all the excitement of holidays, the days are often stressful or rushed. You may have spent hours in the kitchen preparing your favorite foods, so set aside a few minutes before you eat. Take time to slow down, take some deep breaths, and pause to reflect and be thankful for the food and those around your table. Taking steps to relax will help with digestion, nutrient absorption, and satisfaction after the meal.
- No phones at the table. To increase mindfulness, try this-put a basket in another room and leave all phones and electronics in the basket while eating. This will help you to pay more attention to the food and enjoy the conservation at the table.
- Pick foods you really want to eat. Eating what you want increases satisfaction with that meal. Denying yourself your favorite foods can lead to overeating or eating for comfort. Overeating will raise blood glucose and leads to feelings of guilt. Pick foods you really want and skip some of the others. For example, eat a slice of homemade pumpkin pie and skip the store-bought cake or cookies. After eating that slice of pie, don’t feel guilty, feel satisfied.
- Pay attention to your body. Part of mindful eating is intuitive eating. Listen to your body’s internal signs of hunger, satisfaction, and fullness. Eat when you are hungry, not for emotional reasons like stress, sadness, or boredom. Stop eating when you are satisfied and don’t allow yourself to get to that stuffed feeling. It’s also important avoid getting overly hungry. Being too hungry causes overeating. Instead of thinking, I’m going to a party tonight, so I’ll skip lunchthink I’m going to a party tonight, so I should plan for a healthy lunch and snack if I’m hungry before I go to the party.
- Slow down. If you eat a meal in less than 20 minutes, your gut doesn’t have time to release hormones that communicate the feeling of fullness to your brain. To accurately listen to your body’s hunger and satiety cues, you need to slow down. Try slowing down at your next meal by cutting your food into small bites, chewing your food well, and putting your utensil down between bites.
Holidays are a good time to practice mindful eating, because it allows you to enjoy eating some of your favorite foods and feel satisfied. During the holidays, stress, depression, and anxiety can increase. Mindfulness practices or meditations can help you relax. If you want to work on stress relief, being mindful, or mindful eating, there are smartphone apps to increase mindfulness. Mindful eating is a practice that takes time to develop and make it a habit. This isn’t something just to get through the holidays, but something to practice every day. Happy mindful holidays!
by Christine McKinney, RD LDN CDE