Conscious Eating

By Lambeth Hochwald / December 1, 2014

Five Ways To exercise Conscious Eating and Savor the Flavors on Your Plate

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If you’re always the first one to finish your meal, the holidays, aka stress-eating season, are the perfect time to stop wolfing down your food, says Gena Hamshaw, a certified clinical nutritionist and author of Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat (Da Capo Lifelong Books). Read on as she shares five tips to slowing down and relishing what’s in front of you.

1. Reframe the holidays as a time to feel nourished by loved ones, not food.

We’ve come to expect that the holidays will mean high-energy meals where you eat more than you ever would at one sitting—without even realizing it. But, this year, rethink how fast you consume what is on your holiday plate. “Take the time to focus on the indulgent foods you might not eat all year long and enjoy them by slowly savoring each bite,” Hamshaw says. “Focus, too, on appreciating the company of your loved ones.” TIP: If you find yourself rushing, sip water slowly. “This breaks up the eating process and forces you to slow down,” she says.

2. Tap into how your brain processes food.

If you’re quickly filling up on finger foods at yet another holiday cocktail party, you’re actually confusing your brain, since the brain doesn’t pick up on the fact that you’re full until after you’re well past the point of fullness. “By eating quickly, you’re actually becoming fuller than you realize,” she says. “By slowing down, it allows your brain and belly to calibrate and process what you’re eating.”

3. Avoid eating quick snacks.

With back-to-back parties on the calendar, you may not even eat a full meal during busy days throughout the season. “If you graze all day, quickly consuming snacks, you won’t feel satisfied,” Hamshaw says. “Be prepared for those hunger snaps by preparing a couple of dishes in bulk over the weekend or keep salad ingredients ready to chop into a bowl. Then, sit down and focus on those flavors to stay energized.”

4. Don’t approach slow eating as just a weight-loss tool.

Conscious eating shouldn’t be seen as a slim-down strategy. Instead, see it as a chance to have a more profound and enjoyable relationship with food. “When you shovel your food because you’re busy or distracted, it’s impossible to have a deeper appreciation of the food on your plate,” Hamshaw says. “When you eat slowly, you’re connected to tastes and textures and how the food makes you feel.”

5. Cultivate conscious eating for life.

By slowing down for holiday meals, you’ll not only prevent mindless overeating, but you’ll conquer undereating, too, no matter the occasion. “When you take the time to eat food slowly and consciously, it allows you to carve out space,” Hamshaw says. “It’s a balm for all of our bad-food habits.”