Find somebody who doesn’t have a love/hate relationship with holiday eating. It’s nearly impossible—we love how it tastes, but we hate how it makes us feel. How many times have you and your friends and family sat around after the meal talking about how stuffed you were, often suffering through some foul unwanted scents courtesy of your brother-in-law?
If you don’t regularly exercise or eat healthy most of the year, the holidays can be pretty tough on your health. Most annual weight gain is likely to occur over the next month, and it can contribute to all kinds of health troubles like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, fatigue, and worse. So, this year, why not do without the suffering and try mindful eating?
Mindful eating involves slowing down and finding an appreciation for the food you’re eating. It’s about more than just shoveling it in, but instead observing its scent, taste, and how it makes you feel. It involves taking your time and assessing hunger and the desire to eat. In time, it can lead to better decisions as you become more in tune with how certain foods you make feel.
So, let’s say you’re a serial holiday eater who winds up on the couch feeling beat after a meal. And after the season, heck, you don’t even want to think about it. Well, before walking into the party ready to load up your plate, think about that feeling. Know that you don’t want to go through it again and take it slow.
Your digestive system takes about 20-minutes to tell your brain that you’re full, which means that it’s easy to overeat if you’re shoveling it in. This year, when you sit down, take half as much food as you typically would and eat slower. Look at your food, chew it slowly to appreciate the taste, and be present in the entire experience. If it takes you 20-minutes to finish your plate, you’ll be able to better judge how you truly feel—and in many cases that will be “satisfied.”
Mindful eating can also be practiced in a couple of other ways. One is how you approach the party. Yes, be hungry and ready to eat, but don’t show up famished ready to ravage the spread. Also, pay attention to what’s available. Don’t fill up on hors d’oeuvres or items that are available all year round like dinner rolls, chocolates, and other common foods. Instead, focus on the seasonal specialties you long for and only get to taste once or twice per year.
The beauty of practicing mindful eating throughout the holidays is that it can carry over into the new year and continue. The result can be a better relationship with food, healthier choices, and lower risk for weight-related illnesses like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.