Enjoy the holidays mindfully, year round

I don’t know about you, but the holidays are my downfall when it comes to eating. There’s just so much around to nibble, snack and gorge. Then, January 2 arrives and I groan when I look at my scale. But not this year. I am still going to enjoy the goodies but use portion control and be more mindful as Lydia Nader, MS, RD, LDN, registered dietitian with Illinois Bone & Joint Institute’s OrthoHealth Program suggested.

Here are Lydia’s recommendations to follow for mindful eating now and basically forever.

Mindful eating is a way of eating that allows you to become more in tune with your body and learn more about your body’s needs. By noticing your food with all your senses, you gain understanding and ultimately control over your eating habits. Research shows practicing mindful eating can help with weight loss, reduce binge eating and help you feel better emotionally. It also can benefit those who experience depression and anxiety.

Now there are many ways to begin practicing mindful eating, but the four that are most appropriate during the holidays are these:

Let your body catch up to your brain
It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to communicate to your brain you’re full, so take your time with your food. This doesn’t mean you eat super slow, but rather become more aware of the food you are chewing and pay attention to each bite savoring the taste, aroma and texture.

Know your body’s personal hunger signals
Emotional want or comfort foods are abundant this time of year. Knowing when your body needs food—like after a workout—and what you just want for comfort is key. We all know how emotional the holidays can be, so arm yourself and know what your triggers are for emotional eating.

Eating Environment
This isn’t just the room you’re in when you eat. It also includes eating alone versus eating with others. The holidays help us with this because we almost always are around people compared to the rest of the year. Eating with others allows you to be more conscious of what is on your plate and thereby be more mindful.

Attend to your Plate
Avoid multitasking while eating. That means don’t eat in front of the TV or at your desk. When you eat and multitask, you tend to over eat and you aren’t able to truly enjoy your food. Keeping it intentional with your plate is key.

The overall message with mindful eating is gaining insight into the practice—slow down, do one thing at a time, listen to your body and think about all that went into making the meal. Carrying these practices into your daily eating habits will allow you to become more mindful for life. This practice should not be a chore, but an easy way to enjoy your holidays without guilt and staying on track for your goals. So, enjoy your holidays guilt-free and start taking steps to a healthier new year.


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