Here come the holidays! They are a time for family, celebrations and, of course, eating. In an environment that has holiday treats in abundance, does it mean that we have to succumb to the dreaded weight gain? Is there a way to enjoy delicious foods and not gain those five pounds? You do have a choice. You can enjoy the holidays and avoid gaining weight if you practice mindful eating. This is more than just watching what you eat. Mindful eating is being more aware of how, when, and why you eat, not just what you eat. Yes, the holiday celebrations are laden with special foods that lead many of us to use the excuse “it’s only once a year.” The reality, however, is that most of us can have whatever we want any time of the year. Remind yourself there will be another holiday soon (Valentine’s Day, for one). If you really crave something special, you can buy or bake it another time without waiting for the next holiday to come up on the calendar.
Don’t deprive yourself. Eat what you wish, but enjoy it slowly. Savor each bite while thinking about the wonderful memories associated with that special holiday food. It’s also important to pay attention to sensations of hunger and satiation. Be mindful about going to a holiday affair too hungry. Eat a small snack just before going to a party. This simple step gives you more control over your appetite and the ability to put more thought into what you eat.
Start a holiday meal with reasonable portions. Leave at least a third of your plate visible rather than overloading it. This will control the amount you eat, while allowing time to evaluate if you really need to go for second helpings. The same thing works for dessert; eat just half of a slice if pie or cake. Do not forget to eat slower so your body has time to register a feeling of satisfaction with your mind. Quite often, just a five to 10 minute wait before venturing back to the holiday buffet is long enough for your stomach to inform your brain that you really do not need more turkey dressing!
By practicing these concepts of mindful eating, you can enjoy your holiday treats and start the New Year off in a far better place, too.