How to eat mindfully while holidaying
Most of us begin a year with amazing resolutions towards healthy living and mindful eating and wind up each year giving in to temptations brought along by the holiday season.
Binge eating and holidays have almost become synonymous. We have been habituated to think that fun and holidays equal eating all that our heart desires. After all, we all believe we need that break and eating is a ‘go-to’ stress buster for many of us.
We are living in an era where partying and being social calls for being a part of the champagne and wine-filled year end parties. Welcoming the new year without booze and limitless options in food has become a trend and if we choose to disagree, we may become a part of the minority that doesn’t ‘know’ how to have fun.
Mindfulness while eating during the holidays calls for being attentive in a non-judgmental way to what’s happening while it is happening, irrespective of how distracted we are.
Here are some tips to practice mindful eating this holiday season without having to go on a guilt-trip post New Year’s Day, leading to unrealistic resolutions that we will barely be able to stick to.
Take time to savor your food –
It is not unusual for many of us to put in lots of efforts in cooking up a grand meal and then when it is actually time to sit down and enjoy our efforts, we hardly take a few minutes to gulp it all down.
One of the most important steps towards mindful eating is to take a moment to ‘really’ see the food in front of you, to smell the wonderful aromas and take each bite, taste it and feel what you are eating before going for the next bite.
The crux is to not deny yourself the pleasures of eating, but to make it a point to enjoy each bite to the fullest. It is proved scientifically that when we truly savor our food and take it slow, we tend to feel fuller faster and can avoid binge eating.
Stay focused on mindful eating even while socially distracted –
It is easy to get carried away in an interesting conversation and not pay attention to how much and what we are eating in a social gathering. One of the ways to steer clear of such a situation is to alternate glasses of wine or any drink with glasses of drinking water during a conversation and to avoid standing in groups near the food table. If it is a sit-down dinner, it is a good idea to put the fork down in regular intervals and pay attention to conversation. These pauses in eating can help in digestion and also help you to eat mindfully.
What’s your relationship with food? –
Many of us tend to eat the food in front of us not because we are actually hungry but because we are just bored or stressed out. Pay attention to why you want to eat. If you feel lonely or stressed, try talking to someone or go for other possible distractions before you pick up your plate.
Emotional eating can easily become a habit if we don’t recognize the signs early. Try drinking a glass of water before eating food because our bodies can trick us into thinking of thirst as a hunger cue. Keep portions sizes small and take time to finish your plate.
Say a little thanks –
Holiday is a perfect time to express gratitude to all the goodness and abundance in our lives. It is a beautiful gesture to take some time to thank, even in our minds, the people whose efforts have made the food in front of us possible. The farmers, the grocery store, the one who prepared it and one who is serving is. It is the time to reflect and express our gratitude to everyone.
Expressing gratitude is in itself a very fulfilling experience which enhances the joy and experience of eating a mindful meal.
Set the atmosphere right –
Turn off the TV and put away other gadgets while eating a meal. This will help you relax and pay attention to how much you are eating. Over-eating is very likely when we are distracted. Try to always eat from a bowl or a plate rather than straight from a pouch or bag of food. This will ensure we have chosen our portion size wisely.
A calm environment which isn’t over stimulating will go a long way in mindful eating. Seeing meal time as a time to bond with family and our loved ones will undoubtedly be a pleasurable experience during the holiday season.
Choose a smaller plate –
We tend to crave less when we see less. Smaller plates help in portion control especially in gatherings and parties where there is a set-up of all-you-can-eat buffets. Only take as much as you think you can eat and go for another serving only if you feel the need to eat more. This is a necessary step in mindful eating.
With all these tips in mind, it is really not difficult to practice mindful eating not only during the holidays but also as a way of life. This will be a valuable investment towards healthy living.