Holiday Mindful Eating Tips
This time of year can prove to be challenging to eat well and keep up with your fitness. With holidays gatherings surrounded by food and shifting schedules it can be easy to let good habits slip and to pick up less than desirable ones. If you feel stressed trying to keep your eating, fitness and personal on track during this season, you’re not alone. Learn the Holiday Mindful Eating tips I have shared with Elevated Members help them stay happy and healthy all season long.
The holidays bring a wonderful opportunity to spend a special time with loved ones, enjoy events with friends and have festive parties with coworkers. It brings an opportunities to try many tasty new dishes and share some of your favorites as well.
Stepping Away From Holiday Overeating
The festivities of the holidays bring warm gatherings and lots of tasty food and drinks. In previous holidays, I would pile my plate high with all the tasty goodies and munch away at the table. I had a habit of eating very quickly (something I consistently work to improve upon). As a teen and young adult, I grew up running competitively and quite honestly needed all the calories I could get. But as I have gotten older, I no longer log 65+ mile weeks complete with doubles and cross training.
To match my new activity levels I needed to pivot my eating. After a few seasons of pushing away from the table pants unbuttoned and uncomfortable I decided something needed to change. Over eating like that made me feel like I just wanted to lay around or sleep after a big meal like that. Plus, I love food and knew there was a better way to enjoy a beautiful meal.
A Better Way to Enjoy the Holidays
Knowing the patterns of the past, I came up with a better plan for holiday eating. One that let me enjoy my favorite foods, yet at the same time feel happy and satisfied afterwards. No unbuttoning of the pants and no more sluggish workouts in the days after. With this plan, I was able to leave the table feeling comfortably full and energized for an evening of socializing with family and friends.
Becoming a Mindful Eater
As a young athlete, I was hungry A LOT. So much so that I was dubbed the “locust” by my mom because I could wipe out a fridge of food in no time flat. And hey, I was an active kid who truly need the calories! Now, my energy needs are not as great and I enjoy having a drink or two instead. Learning to adjust my eating patterns to better fit my adult needs took time, and yet, I am always learning still.
I began exploring mindful eating in graduate school as my days filled with track practice in undergrad turned into days full of research and writing at a desk. Seeing an increase in weight following my old eating patterns did not make me thrilled. I do not believe that following a diet plan built for others would work best for me either. My needs are unique, as are yours, as is your neighbors and our eating should reflect that.
Mindful Eating vs Dieting
The concept of mindful eating is really wonderful. In essence it puts the ball back into your court and builds your confidence in your personal ability to decide what to eat, when and how much. Developing a mindful eating practice teaches you to tune into and understand what your body is trying to tell you.
A diet or food rules on the other hand is external guidance, often it teaches you to ignore internal signals (i.e. hunger and satiety or fullness) and follow an eating pattern that likely has not be tailored to your personal needs.
Following a diet decreases self confidence, increases the chance of rebellious eating (i.e. over consumption of a “bad” food in a short period of time), and put your into a restrictive mindset that can leave you feeling guilty or unworthy of truly enjoying food.
I give you full permission to enjoy the foods that you love unconditionally this season. Eat, find joy and be satisfied as you develop your mindful eating practice!
Holidays Can be Challenging
With so many things to taste and grandma ALWAYS wanting to feed you till you pop, striving to eat well and feel good can be challenging this time of year! Below we are going to go over simple skills and strategies you can use to help you stay happy and healthy during the holidays.
Take a moment to reflect on your past holiday seasons. What were some challenging areas that left you feeling a bit lack luster with your health? While uncomfortable to think about, this exercise will help you to identify areas where a bit of self awareness and strategy can improve your holiday eating. The goal is to make your holiday experience more enjoyable all around. 🙂
How to Eating Mindfully
To begin cultivating your practice of mindful eating is to learn to listen to your internal cues. Specifically, tapping into what hunger and fullness or satiety feels like to you. To help you build this self awareness, it helps to keep a Mindful Eating Journal. In your journal, take note of what your hunger and fullness feels like on a scale of 1-10. Write this down before and after meals, extra points if you stop half way through and take note.
Allow yourself to eat freely, and focus on enjoying your food with all your senses. Sight, smell, touch, taste. Really take your time to enjoy your meals as it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that it is full. Be patient with yourself as you learn this new skill. It takes time to develop and you may be better at this on somedays than others.
Mindfully Eating Through the Holidays
There is no better time to start becoming a mindful eater than today! Whether you are starting on Thanksgiving Day or in the heat of June, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Follow my Holiday Mindful Eating Tips below for family feasts, corporate parties, or simply enjoying your lunch at home on a Sunday. Learn to become a happier and healthier eater as you begin to apply the practice of mindfulness to your eating. 🙂
Holiday Mindful Eating Tips
- Honor your hunger and have a lighter meal or snack in place of your regular meals. This will allow you to be hungry come time but not ready to eat your grandmas arm off.
- A walk through the buffet without your plate. Pick out your favorite items and then get in line. This will help you fill your plate with the appropriate amount of food.
- Pick up a smaller plate (~10 inches). You will naturally fill your plate with less food. If you are still hungry later, you can always go back for more if you need!
- Enjoy your favorite foods! Even if that is the triple layered super-duper chocolate cake with sugar sprinkles on it. Take your time and savor it 🙂
- Eat S L O W L Y. Put your fork down in between bites. Check in with your body halfway through eating. Are you still hungry? If yes, slowly enjoy more, savory each delicious bite! If no, simply push your plate back and put your napkin to the left of it to signal that you are done (even if its just a reminder to yourself!). Honor your fullness. You can always have leftovers.
- Have a glass of water, salad, or vegetable soup before dinner. High water content foods like these are excellent to help you keep your waistline in check. This pattern increases your nutrient, fiber and water dense foods which has been shown to reduce the amount that you eat by 15%.
- Skip meals in anticipation of the feast and arrive ravenous.
- Grab a plate and go straight to the buffet.
- Find the biggest plate (12 inches) you can and pile on the food. Chances are you will be tempted to finish your plate.
- Restrict yourself all season with food rules. Don’t try and cut out sugar now. Heavy restricts can result in rebellious eating i.e. overeating, scarcity eating, or binge eating.
- Eat like your sibling is going to try to take the turkey off your plate. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to signal to your stomach that its full. Be sure to take your time and check in so you can identify this.
- Fast and not drink water all day. This will only leave you hungry, under-fueled and ready to fight your uncle! And nobody wants to see that happen.
A Season for Giving
As you embark on or continue down your journey as a Mindful Eater, remember to embrace the season of giving. Take a moment each day to give yourself and others kindness with your words. Practice patience as you grow into these habits. Allow time to embrace this journey. Lean into progression and step away from perfection.
Remember, it never hurts to be kind! 💕
Many of my Elevated Members have started or improved upon their mindful eating journeys with my private consulting or seasonal group coaching programs. If you are ready to enjoy eating and learn the language of your body to improve your health naturally, set up a complimentary discovery session and start your own journey.