The holidays only come once a year, so it’s important to find ways to remember every moment. There is one commonality to every holiday that brings us all together, and that’s food! As exciting as bringing our holiday favorites back, it can be stressful for some to think about. Practicing mindfulness over the holidays involves having moment-to-moment awareness. It also involves using your senses to have new observations with foods familiar or new to you. It is a unique practice unlike any healthy eating trend, focusing on reconnecting with food without judgment. Mindful eating allows us to appreciate food and the nourishment it gives our bodies truly. It is effective for an extended period of time, not a short-term goal with “fast results.” There are no food rules and restrictions associated with mindful eating; the goal is to savor the moment and have your own unique experiences.
10 Strategies to practice Mindful Eating:
#1 Be Intentional. Choose your most meaningful holiday meals. Don't feel pressured to choose items you are not desiring.
#2 Get Creative and Consider Alternatives. Try swapping out ingredients with those supporting your health goals.
#3 Remove Distractions. Try to become more present while eating by creating ambiance and removing distractions, i.e., Cellphones, TV, Workload, books, etc.
#4 Stay Hydrated. Remember to stay hydrated during colder months. Consider trying hot tea with lemon, warm milk (with molasses - Yum!), sparkling water, or flavoring your water.
#5 Noticing your Hunger and Fullness. Determine if a pre-meal snack is necessary before a holiday gathering. You never have to "save up" for a holiday meal or party; this may cause you to be overly hungry and eat at a faster pace or past fullness. Eat slowly; it takes about 20 minutes for your hormones to kick in and tell your brain when you have had enough food.
#6 Using your Senses. Before taking your first bite, notice the smells, colors, and food arrangements. When you take your first bite, take it slowly and notice the textures, flavors, and sounds coming from the food.
#7 Have a Strategy. Bring your favorite dish and try using a smaller plate to help your portion sizes and satisfaction factor. Develop a well-balanced plate and look over all your options before choosing.
#8 Add Joyful Movement to Your Holiday Traditions. Plan ahead to try new activities, such as going for a group walk, playing a game of charades, or looking at Christmas lights after dinner.
#9 Manage Stress. Identify the true source of your stress to respond in a way that is helpful to you. Try breathing techniques, get outside, go for a walk, journal, or have a stretch break.
#10 Drop the Food Guilt, Be Present & Practice Gratitude. Remember to enjoy yourself; the holidays only come once a year. Try to be in the moment and cherish them. Acknowledge everyone surrounding you and the meals placed in front of you. Recognize the time it took to prepare for the holidays—practice gratitude with your friends and family.
A place for our consultant Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) to share nutrition science, yummy and healthy recipes, tips on seasonal ingredients, and other nutritional musings. Enjoy!