Mindful Holiday Eating
By Lindsay Byrd Leimbach
Mindful Holiday Eating is never about denying yourself or telling yourself you can’t eat. Neither is it about eating just because the food is offered. Instead, it is an awareness of your external and internal motivations for eating without judgment. Awareness leads to insight, knowledge, and positive choices – and making those choices is the key to mindful holiday eating.
Instead of thinking of holiday food as “dangerous” or “a must,” realize that you can eat any food you want (provided you are not allergic). You choose to limit the intake of food items that do not promote your well-being – you are exercising choices rather than placing restrictions or engaging in gluttony. Mindful holiday eating is shifting your focus from dieting or frenzy eating to personal power. It is a shift of thinking from “I can’t” or “I have to try it all” to “I feel better when I eat...” or “this food works better for me, so I choose...”
How does one eat mindfully during the holidays? First, be awake and aware while eating. Choose when you eat. Choose where you will eat. Choose what you will eat. Choose how much you will eat. You have the personal power over holiday food; holiday food does not have the power over you. So, when you choose to partake in the holiday eating, truly enjoy every bite.
Here are 6 steps to Mindful Holiday Eating:
Evaluate your hunger – Are you really hungry? Don’t go to a holiday party starving.
Assess your food - Stop, pause, and really appreciate your food. How does it look and smell? How much have your served yourself? If it is not what you want, don’t eat it just because it is there. Maybe say “yes” to a homemade cookie and “no” to a store-bought one.
Taste your food - Really taste it. Eat slowly and savor the food and textures in every bite. Do not rush. If you are going to eat, choose to relish your food.
Investigate your hunger - Check in with yourself while eating. Are you still hungry? Do you need to pace yourself?
Notice how you feel - Be aware of how you feel physically and emotionally while eating. For example, are you calm and relaxed, or are you rushing, lost in thought, or lost in the TV?
Gratitude - Have gratitude for the holiday goodies. Be grateful to all the people, plants, and animals that played a part in providing you with food. Seeing the bigger picture will connect you to others and help you establish a positive sense of well-being.