Mindful Eating Around the Holidays

November 16, 2016 | Juline Mosser

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” It’s November and the holiday seasonal floodgates have opened. The news, magazines, headlines are laden with catchy phrases like, “Keep off the holiday bulge with these easy steps”, “The diet to help you drop pounds and look your best by the New Year”.  A combination of these diet culture phrases with emotions such as guilt, perfectionism, and jealousy make it difficult for anyone to be “Merry and Bright”.

In order to help reduced those emotional stressors; incorporate mindful eating into your approach to food over the holiday season. What is mindful eating? Lisa B. Nelson, MD, Director of Medical Education for Kripalu faculty programs, explains it as “the practice of being present while we eat.” Mindfulness is simply being present in the moment and bringing awareness to your feelings, thoughts, and signals that your body is giving you. Using these mindful tips can help you increase your presence and decrease the emotional stress around the holiday season.

What am I hungry for? Take a moment to stop and think about what you actually want. So often we feel obligated to eat certain food because of social pressure, when we could be eating the foods that taste best to us.

Assess your hunger. Don’t feel pressure to clean your plate. Mindful eating is about savoring the food and allowing your mind and body to tell you when you’re full.

Eat with mindfulness. Eating with mindfulness means slowing down and allowing your senses to be present while eating. Give yourself the opportunity to smell, taste, and see the food. During the holidays we are surrounded by distractions, and being fully committed to the experience of every bite will help eliminate the overeating guilt.  While you’re eating be aware of the food. The beautiful colors, the enticing smells, make eating a sensory experience. This increases the overall experience and allows us to slow down and be mindful. If you’re unaware of the food you’re putting in your mouth you have a tendency to overeat.

Practice mindful eating before Thanksgiving. Like building any new routine, mindfulness takes practice.  Give yourself opportunities to practice mindful eating before the big Thanksgiving meal. Spend time with family or a partner eating dinner mindfully, this time spent practicing with the ones you love will help create daily habits that will be easier to manage during big holiday meals.

Mindful eating can defend against overeating and unwanted effects that follow.  When you’re eating and you feel distracted, remind yourself to, stop, think and use your senses. Mindful eating is a practice and with any practice it takes work. Thinking and experiencing your food will develop a deeper connection between your mind and body. Its takes the brain up to 20 minutes to receive the signal from your stomach that it is full. If you’re eating mindfully, you’re more likely to consume less in those 20 minutes.

Practicing these mindful techniques will allow you to connect with your mind and listen to your body.  Mindfulness around food will help begin your journey into living an intuitive, mindful life.

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