6 Tips For Eating Mindfully Over The Holidays
Food is a big part of many holidays traditions. It's the thing most people look forward to (myself included) because it brings a sense of comfort, memories, and family/friends time. As you currently make your way through all of the menus at restaurants, house parties, or your personal favourite Christmas snack collection at home, here's some simple tips to eat more mindfully.
1. Moderation is key.
You CAN have that piece of cake your Grandmother makes only once a year for this special occasion. You CAN eat a couple pieces of that delicious chocolate orange. The key is not to eat the whole thing at once and plan ahead. If you know you have a dinner party later with a lot of food, eat a lighter lunch. Once you arrive at that dinner, assess the options. Pick out your favourite foods and go lighter on the others/choose more vegetables instead (but go easy on the sauces/cheese/butter on top). Be aware of how many appetisers you're eating and plate your food. I often find myself standing around the kitchen counter talking with people over layered nacho dip (that one with the sour cream/cream cheese/salsa/shredded cheese/toppings) snacking away without realising how much I'm eating. Then after when dinner is served, I'm already quite full but still want to eat my favourite foods, so I force them down. Grabbing a plate and being conscious of how much you're putting on it makes all the difference.
It's also important to think of food as fuel. Will a plate full of mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, bread, cheese, desserts and lots of wine make you feel good? YES. But for a short time. You need vegetables for more vitamins/minerals and fibre for good digestion, you need healthy fats (healthy oils, nuts/seeds, avocados, sustainable meats) to help you to feel fuller longer and not crash, and protein. Indulging can feel great momentarily but may make you feel bloated and sluggish the next day (and no one has time for that). My point is you can have those things I mentioned, but practice portion control and be sure to add in foods that will give your body the energy it needs so that you can feel your best and optimise your life. Let me say it again, YOU GET TO CHOOSE HOW YOU FEEL.
2. Eat Regularly/ Keep Healthy Snacks Available
This month is busy. As you're getting through your long to-do list or long car rides, when you finally see food it's easy to feel ravenous and overeat. Be sure to eat a healthy breakfast in the morning and keep nourishing snacks in your cupboards/bag to avoid making sudden unhealthy choices (the easiest quickest food is often junk). My favourites are; fruit, nuts/seeds, yogurt (I prefer coconut), healthy crackers with peanut/nut butter, protein shakes, sliced veggies with hummus, or hard boiled eggs.
3. Bring A Healthy Dish
If you're going somewhere that won't have many healthy choices available, make a dish you want to eat and bring it for everyone. It's a win/win situation and a sure way to get the nutrition you want/need.
4. Eat Slowly and Chew Well
In my family if you're not eating it means you don't feel well or don't like it. My husband learned that the hard way. He'd always quickly eat up his food and say he's full, then my Grandfather would say "What's wrong? You don't like it?", then he'd guiltily get more. I told him the trick is to always keep food on his plate (but finish it in the end). I often find myself going for seconds and thirds not because I'm hungry, but because I like the feeling of sitting at the table, eating and talking. You can talk without eating, better yet do it by putting down your fork and focusing more on the conversation, then when you pick it up focus on your food. Chew slowly, savour the taste, and really enjoy it. It takes at least 20 minutes for our brains to register the feeling of being full, make sure your first plate lasts that long.
5. Add in More Steps/Exercise
Exercise is always important, but sometimes we don't have time to go for a run or go to the gym, so adding in a few extra steps to things you're already doing will help a lot.
-Park further away. Whether it's at a friend/family members home, a mall, or an event; park further away or if you can, take public transportation and walk.
-Take the stairs instead of the elevator
-Go for a walk with your family/friends after dinner. Take in the Christmas lights and fresh air.
-Do a round of research before buying when shopping. At the grocery store or mall do a lap without buying anything first. You can check out all of the deals, plan what you really need, and get in more steps.
6. Sip Wisely
I'm not here to tell you what not to drink, we all know what and what amounts are good for us. I am going to tell you want to drink. WATER. Be conscious of how much water you drink. It's easy to get dehydrated when you're busy because you just forget. Also you may find yourself drinking more caffeine for extra energy, or more alcohol at social gatherings, which are both very dehydrating. Pack a water bottle in your bag and take sips throughout your day, and reach for a cup of herbal tea after dinner. This will help you digest (e.g, peppermint), feel a little fuller and therefore reach for less desserts, and add more water to your body. Drink a full glass of water before a meal to help you to stay hydrated, be sure on your level of hunger (sometimes we are just thirsty), and consume the amount of food you actually need. PROBIOTICS. Give your digestion a little boost while it's trying to process everything you're eating, and ensure a smooth operation the morning after a big dinner. Add some to your favourite smoothie/shake or just drink them with water. PROTEIN SHAKES. An easy and quick way to get a good amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Moving your body and eating well is important. It effects your energy, mood, skin, productivity, sleep, and so much more. It is possible to love food (and enjoy all of the amazing foods the holidays bring) and love your body, by building a healthy relationship with both. You don't need to restrict yourself, or do any extreme diets in January. Just being conscious of what and how much you're eating will result in a happier healthier you both in December and all year round.