By Farah Khan RDN

Happy Holidays!

The Holiday Season is a festive and joyful time of year, but for many, it can also be quite stressful due to the abundance of social events and holiday food that surrounds. From holiday work parties to family get-togethers, the period between Thanksgiving and New Years can seem like an endless food festival, and weight gain during this time is not an uncommon phenomenon.

So how do you manage to enjoy the holidays without gaining unwanted weight and feeling stressed or anxious about enjoying the richer holiday fare? The key is Mindful Eating through the Holidays.

What is Mindful Eating?

In a nutshell, it is an approach to eating rather than a restriction of the types of foods you can eat. Mindful Eating involves paying attention to what you are eating and how you feel. It means making conscious choices on food and drink and listening to your sensations of hunger and satiety – fullness and satisfaction. This approach helps you make conscious decisions about what you choose to indulge in during the holidays and enjoy those items, but also register feelings of hunger and fullness so that you do not feel as if you are going overboard at any point.

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Tips to Help You Eat More Mindfully

Here are some tips to help you eat more mindfully during the holiday season:

Don’t show up starving to holiday parties and events!

It is more difficult to eat mindfully when you’re ravenous, so eat lighter but protein and fiber-rich meals during the day of a holiday party so that you avoid arriving excessively hungry.

Look at all the options available and decide what you really want.

You don’t have to sample every item at a holiday party or buffet – choose moderate portions of items that you really want to try and enjoy them.

Chew your food slowly!

Often we eat far too quickly and don’t enjoy the complexity of flavors in a dish. Eating slowly and savoring each bite can help you feel more satisfied with your meal.

Forget the “Clean Plate Club!”

You do not have to finish everything on your plate if you are feeling satisfied.

Pay attention to your own satiety and satisfaction signals.

Stopping when you are satisfied vs. full can help you avoid over-eating, and it usually takes about 20 minutes for satiety signals to kick in!

Pay attention to how you feel.

If you are not very hungry, do not feel compelled to have a plate. Similarly, if you feel that you have over-indulged, acknowledge it but move on. Choose lighter protein and vegetable-based options at your next meal – but avoid restricting your intake to compensate.

Finally, enjoy the company!

The holidays are about enjoying time with friends and family, so be mindful of your choices and enjoy your meals, but focus on other factors that make the holidays so special!

Tip of the Day:

Practice taking at least 20 minutes to eat your lunch at work. Slow down, chew your food and savor the flavors. Avoid working while eating. Eating mindfully means minimizing distractions and paying attention to what you are eating and how you feel.

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