Eating mindfully this holiday season
With Christmas comes a clutter of mixed messages.
On one hand, we’re encouraged to indulge and be merry. On the other, we’re prompted to “watch our weight”. This confusion can lead us down a path of “good” vs “bad”, food restriction and cravings.
Let’s face it- who doesn’t want what we’re not allowed?
We can quickly find ourselves overindulging, feel guilt and experience stress over our food choices.
If this sounds familiar, let’s consider another way to enjoy Christmas. One that is healthier for the mind. It is shown to reduce the amount of food we eat, but importantly, increase our enjoyment of eating at the same time. It is about allowing ourselves to have all of our favourite foods, but mindfully.
“We eat for both nutrition and pleasure; being mindful about each can help you find the right balance”
It’s called mindful eating. It isn’t another diet or trend. It is simply about eating to our body’s needs- physically and mentally.
Mindful eating this holiday season
There is no right or wrong when it comes to mindful eating
1. Ask yourself, what do you need right now?
Before eating, check in with yourself.
Are you hungry? Or is there another reason you are eating?
If it is food you need, what are your priorities? Are you aiming to nourish your body or your mind? Are you enjoying a special meal with family or friends or are you eating simply to fuel yourself?
It’s normal to enjoy some holiday treats over the season. Consider whether your choice of food matches your priorities in this moment?
Trust yourself- only you know what is best for you
2. Pause and appreciate
When your food is in front of you, pause and take a moment.
Consider where it came from and what went into producing it?
Note the smell. Is it making you salivate?
Does your food have a cultural meaning to you?
3. Slow down
Savour every bite.
Become aware of each mouthful, the process of chewing and swallowing.
Tune in to the taste, texture and temperature.
Put your cutlery down between mouthfuls and enjoy slowly.
What is that makes you enjoy eating this food?
4. Know you can stop
Halfway through your meal, pause and check if you are still hungry.
Portion sizes often provide more than we need, but we don’t need to eat it all.
Remember that you are in control, decide how much is right for you.
Can you save what’s left for tomorrow?
"Mindful eating puts you in control of your food choices; rather than your food choices controlling you"
Healthy eating cannot be judged on one food or one meal alone. Healthy eating takes into consideration our overall food intake. It considers our physical and mental health.
Aiming to be more conscious of our food choices and incorporate more nutrients into our day is helpful. Aiming to eat perfectly is not helpful. This will impact our mental health and is usually not beneficial for our physical health either.
However, we need to keep it in perspective. Eating mindfully means considering everything your body needs. Eating foods rich in nutrients is balanced by eating foods you really enjoy. You are in control of your balance.
Enjoy the holiday season with friends and family!