Five Tips for Mindful Eating Over the Holidays

The holidays are upon us! That means eggnog, hot cocoa, cookies, cakes, pies, chocolates, and other goodies galore are here! Many of us struggle with over indulgence of treats and drinks over the holidays. Below are some helpful tips to keep you eating mindfully and joyfully over the holidays!

1. Slow down your eating. Many of us tend to eat rapidly, and unfortunately our gut hormones take about 20 minutes to send a message to the brain saying when we are full. This results in us overeating before we get the feeling of fullness. To extend your eating time, try putting your fork down between each bite.

2. Savor your food. Since many of us eat rapidly, we don't really have time to enjoy our food. Next time you are eating, try to chew your food more (about 5 to 10 times) and really pay attention to the flavors in your food and the textures of your food. Take the time to truly enjoy your yummy treats so you will not have to eat as much of them to satiate your craving.

3. Set yourself up for success. Many of us set ourselves up for failure over the holidays by leaving ourselves open to temptation. Instead of standing near platters of food at the next holiday party and grazing, get a small plate of food and move yourself away from the food table. When presented with an array of desserts at a party, choose one that seems the most delicious and allow yourself one full portion of that rather than taking a "little" sampling of all the desserts. If you have leftovers from a party or holiday gathering, keep them out of sight to avoid temptation and picking at them throughout the day.

4. Avoid distractions while eating. Eating while distracted is the most common cause of mindless eating. How many times have you sat down to watch TV with a snack and before you know it the snack is gone? To avoid distractions while eating, set a specific location to eat your food away from distractions such as TV, large crowds of people, etc. This will allow you to practice tips one or two easily!

5. Recognize your hunger. When we see food we often get various sensations that we automatically classify as "hunger." However, we have many different types of hunger. During the holidays we often fall prey to "eye hunger," "nose hunger," and "mouth hunger." Eye hunger is when we see food that looks aesthetically pleasing and we begin to only think about eating that food. Nose hunger is when we smell food and it triggers us to begin craving comfort foods. Mouth hunger is the desire for pleasant sensations within your mouth (usually fatty, salty, or sweet sensations). Next time you notice you're hungry, ask yourself is my body in need of nourishment right now or am I experiencing eye, nose, or mouth hunger? If you have eye, nose, or mouth hunger make sure to fully satisfy it (but with a small portion size!). For example, if you are experiencing nose hunger, take the time to deeply inhale before taking a bite of your food (like a wine connoisseur would) and notice the different scents in your food. If you are experiencing mouth hunger, make sure to practice savoring your food. If you are experiencing eye hunger, don't be afraid to to arrange your food in a pleasing way to set it up for an Instagram worthy shot before you eat it!

Happy Holidays and Merry Mindful Eating!

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