Author: Courtney Conner MS, RD, LD
The holidays are a time for joy, family, and lots of indulgent foods and drinks. These tips are here to help you enjoy yourself with keeping health as a priority also. Mindful eating is a principle that focuses on being attentive to hunger cues, fullness, and eating food without distractions. It is paying close attention to the food and drinks you consume and taking account of how your body feels and responding to it. During the holidays, mindful eating allows you to enjoy and indulge yourself during these special times, but also being aware to not go overboard with indulgence.
#1 Hunger cues
One of the main concepts of mindful eating is listening to hunger and fullness cues. With so many holiday parties, family get-togethers, and holiday potlucks overeating can occur easily. Using hunger cues and paying attention to what your body needs versus what it wants is very important. Eating when you are truly hungry, and not-eating when you are full is the key to staying on track during the holidays.
#2 Outsmart the buffet and potlucks
With large amounts of foods constantly available, it can be hard to stop continuously grabbing for more food. Here are some tips to outsmart the buffets:
- Start with vegetables to cut your appetite with good-for-you foods
- Create a small plate of the foods you like best and then move away from the buffet table to eat
- Eat slowly. It takes your brain at least 20 minutes to realize you’re full
- Avoid or limit alcohol. Alcohol is empty calories since it does not fit into a food group. If having a drink, choose those lower in sugar by using club soda, low sugar fruit juices, or diet drinks.
#3 Enjoy your favorite foods
With mindful eating, no food is on the naughty list. You can indulge in your favorite foods that may not be necessarily healthy, without over-indulging. Choose the dishes you really love and can’t get very often or at other times during the year, like pumpkin pie. The key is to slow down and savor a small serving.
#4 Keep moving
The holidays are a busy time of the year, and exercise seems to get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. But being active can help you feel better, keep unwanted weight off, reduce stress, and help cardiovascular health. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to make a difference either. Even taking a walk with friends or family after a holiday meal can make a difference. So spend time each day doing something active, and your body will thank you.
#5 Get enough sleep
With the holidays, usually come staying up later and possibly getting up earlier. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night helps with reducing stress, feeling more energized, increased positive mood, and can aid against mindless eating. Making sleep a part of your schedule will allow you to make it a priority.
The takeaway message
With keeping these healthy tips in mind, your holiday season can be fun, and won’t cause you to de-rail your own progress towards a healthy life. Always remember what this season is about – celebrating and connecting with the people you love. Focus more on the fun and less on the food.