Mindful Eating During the Holidays

Of all times of the year, the holiday season brings the most challenges to those trying to practice mindful eating. Temptations abound: from your favorite baked goods to cocktail parties and numerous social gatherings all centered around food as the main activity. In addition, the added stress of family visits and other obligations are often triggers to eat without thinking about how much we really want or need.

Mindful Eating is about Paying Attention 

Mindfulness is simply paying attention to something in process without passing judgment on what is happening. This can easily be applied to eating. Many people have found the practice of mindful eating to be tremendously helpful in maintaining healthy weight and recovering from various eating issues. Mindful eating can help you enjoy your food and holiday season without overdoing it.

Here are three tips to help you practice mindful eating:

  1. Slow down and actually taste your food fully:  This is perhaps the most important tip. Use all five of your senses to explore the food before taking even one bite. Look at the food and how it’s presented. Smell the aromas. Touch it. As you begin to eat, chew slowly and notice all the flavors and textures before you swallow. Notice the various sounds as you chew. Truly enjoy all of the food you eat without rushing through. You don’t have to skip desserts or other foods. It’s all about savoring the richness of what you choose without feeling guilty. Recognize that you are making a conscious choice when it comes to your food.
  2. Be prepared for social distractions:  Research shows that we consume more when we eat in the company of others. When other people are indulging, we tend to indulge also. We cannot be focused fully on what we are eating and drinking when we are also talking. Having a plan that works for you in social situations is helpful. Here are some ideas: alternate drinking glasses of wine with glasses of water; avoid conversing with others while in reach of the food table; put your fork down between bites so you can talk. Also, get creative and pursue non-food focused celebrations or time with friends and family.
  3. Pause and check in with yourself:  Take time to see how hungry you really are before eating anything. You do not have to eat just because food is in front of you. If you really take time to check in, you might realize that you’re not hungry at all or not as much as you thought. Take small portions to begin with. You can always get more if you are still hungry.

Stacey Wald, LAPC, RD

Swald @ growcounseling.com