As the song goes, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a lot of fun and involves dinners and gatherings with friends and families which are celebrated with a lot of food. We all concede that this season is meant for eating, drinking and being merry which makes it a challenging time to stick to your healthy eating habits.
Not a single person wants to spend the holiday season deprived. So, instead of stressing about sticking to a healthy diet or taking a carefree approach by subjecting yourself to mindlessly eating all meals and regretting it later, why not try to be mindful? Here are some little big ways to have your most mindful holiday season yet.
1. Focus on how you feel
Feel. Pause and pay attention to your body and your hunger. Do this before, during, before having seconds, and after eating. Paying attention to your body’s signals will help you eat only when you’re hungry, and eat enough until you’re satisfied instead of eating beyond you’re too full.
Are you really hungry or are you just thirsty? (Tip: Always keep yourself hydrated. Drink some water 30 minutes before your meal to help you make better food choices at the buffet table.)
Are you really hungry or do you want to eat only because everybody’s eating? Does your body need seconds? Again, feel. And listen. Then decide if you really need to eat some more.
2. Select your food carefully and let yourself enjoy them
What are your favorite dishes that you want to eat? Does it include a family recipe, your mom’s dish during Christmas Eve or New Year? What are those dishes that you really enjoy eating and those that you don’t want to miss this season? Create a list of you have to.
Asking yourself these kinds of questions will help you become more mindful of the food you will consume. It will make you stick to the foods you really want to eat and avoid mindlessly eating all foods on the table. You may pick your favorite from one of each: appetizer, main dish, grains and dessert.
3. Savor your meal slowly
Once you’ve selected your foods, enjoy and savor it. If you eat slowly, you will digest your food better and it will fill you up more quickly, increasing the likelihood of not overeating. Sit down, chew slowly, enjoy each bite, and appreciate the flavors. Put your utensils down between bites. Limit distractions by putting down phones and devices. Engage in conversations with friends and families. You’ll be surprised that you’ll already fill full after a plateful without the need for seconds.
4. Plan your meals: with the healthy and not-so-healthy
Let’s accept the fact that not every meal, especially during this holiday season, can be nutritious. But remember that we are given a number of meals including snacks, so balance your food intake throughout the day with healthy and not-so-healthy meals.
There’s a “Never 2 in a Row” rule, which I employ, when needed. It simply means that if you eat a not-so-healthy meal, simply make the next one healthy. One unhealthy meal doesn’t ruin a day, a week or even a month. Include your healthy favorites in between the non-so-healthy ones. These can be plant-based, fiber-rich snacks or fruits, smoothies or juices.
5. Rethink the holidays
Try to rethink your intention for the holidays. Is it just for eating and drinking? Of course, not, and I hope you also agree with this. More importantly, think of it as an opportunity for you to connect with your partner, families, friends and new people. Make eating a second priority to your relationships and you will surely find it easier to eat mindfully.
I hope that these simple steps will help you become more mindful and conscious of your food choices, to help you enjoy your meals while still honoring your decisions to eat well. Try them and see what works for you, and I hope that you’d be able to find the balance of pleasure and nourishment for yourself and your health this holiday season and beyond.