Healthy for the Holidays
By Kirby Tello
By: Kirby Tello Photo by: Rachel Benavides
What is mindful eating? Well, here’s what it isn’t. Mindful eating is not how most Americans have their meals every single day. We are normally on our phones, watching television, or working on the computer. These distractions prevent us from really knowing how much food we are consuming and how quickly we are consuming it. Ultimately, distracted eating is how we unintentionally gain additional weight, which can lead to obesity. The key to prevention is to eat mindfully. Eating mindfully starts with being aware. “When you pay attention to what you’re eating, you can make small changes that make a big difference,” says the American Heart Association.The holiday season is officially here, and with that comes all of the savory Thanksgiving goodies and tasty sweets we have been waiting to consume. This also marks the time when most of us go into hibernation mode and willfully plan to gain a few extra pounds with the anticipation of home cooked meals and countless shared feasts. But before you grab your stretchy pants and belly up to the dining table, consider how mindful eating during the holidays will make you feel less pressure to hit the gym hard come January.
Start by looking at your portion size. Typically, you’ll find that there is more on your plate than your body really needs. However, we’ve been taught since birth that a “happy plate” is the epitome of being a good human. Therefore, we eat it – all of it. One way to mindfully monitor how much you’re eating is by controlling portions. First, grab a smaller plate. Psychologically, the smaller plate tells the mind that less food will fit on the plate, so you will automatically reduce your portion size.
Slowing down and enjoying every bite of food is another way to practice mindful eating. When we slow down and pay attention to each bite, it gives the body enough time to trigger your brain that you are satisfied. Once the brain feels satisfied, you are less likely to continue eating past your limit.
The brain plays a huge role in mindful eating. Finding that inner voice and actively listening to what your body is telling you it needs will help you eat only when you are hungry. Before going back for a second helping of turkey or slicing an additional piece of pecan pie, ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry?” If the answer is no, fight the urge to indulge further.
Finally, cut yourself a little slack. Since you know you will want to enjoy a few extra sweets here and there, plan ahead by being mindful of your portion sizes, enjoying every bite of food, and eating only when you are hungry.
The holidays are meant to be fun and enjoyable, and food is a part of that. So, don’t stress too much about delighting in an occasional treat. However, consider practicing mindful eating to keep yourself happy and healthy through all of the festivities. Your waistline will thank you later.