10 Mindful Eating Tips For The Holidays

The temperature is dropping and the colder weather is prompting an almost primal pull toward heavier food and larger meals. This abundance is something to be grateful for, but if you want to stay on track with your nutrition plan and avoid gaining excess weight this holiday season, it’s important to adopt a mindful eating practice.

In today’s post, I share 10 mindful eating tips that will help you stick with a healthy diet, enjoy the foods you love and avoid weight gain (and guilt) during the holidays.

10 mindful eating tips for the holidays

Ten mindful eating tips that will help you stay on track with a healthy diet, enjoy the foods you love and avoid weight gain during the holiday season.
© thundercloud.com

1. Start your day with movement

Start your day with healthy choices that get your muscles pumping and encourage mindfulness. On the morning of your holiday celebration, move your body and take time to quell your mind.

Go for a walk or run outside (or participate in a fun race like a 5K Turkey Trot), hike, practice yoga and/or do a meditation session.

Exercising reduces cortisol (your stress hormone) levels, which can help prevent holiday stress eating. These activities will clear your mind, make you feel good and prepare you for the busy day ahead so that you can mindfully tackle the large amounts of food around you.

Hydrate during the holidays
© Crateandbarrel.com

2. Hydrate

Start your morning with a glass of lemon water and drink water throughout the day to promote good digestion, energy and focus. The better hydrated you are, the more efficient your body will be at transporting nutrients, encouraging circulation and metabolism. Water also helps regulate your appetite so that you eat less during your meal.

Ten mindful eating tips that will help you stay on track with a healthy diet, enjoy the foods you love and avoid weight gain during the holiday season.

3. Select a small plate

If you have the option to choose your own plate, grab the smallest you can find – salad plates work well. Research suggests that people tend to eat around 20 percent fewer calories when they put their food on smaller plates. Eating from a smaller plate is a great strategy to follow in buffet type settings because it will help you with portion control.

Ten mindful eating tips that will help you stay on track with a healthy diet, enjoy the foods you love and avoid weight gain during the holiday season.

4. Assess your hunger

Be mindful of your hunger and fullness cues before you nosh and continue to check-in throughout the meal. Ask yourself how you might feel if you eat the food in front of you. Will you feel satisfied and content, or will you feel full, bloated and exhausted? What are your wants and what are your needs? Do you need nourishment in the form of food or do you need something else? Differentiate between the two.

Decide if you’re experiencing true hunger (belly rumbling, slight empty feeling in your tummy) or psychological/emotional hunger (comes on when you’re bored, stressed, happy, angry, sad, fatigued, etc.). Determining where you are on the hunger spectrum will help you make more mindful (and often healthier) choices. If you’re unsure whether or not you are experiencing true hunger, drink a glass of water then reassess your hunger in 15-20 minutes.

Once you have taken this moment to reflect, you can then choose if you want to eat, what you want to eat, and how much you want to eat. Accept your decision and enjoy the moment. Remind yourself that you made the mindful decision to eat the food in front of you. Don’t let guilt ruin your experience.

Mindful eating tips for the holidays

5. Sit while you eat 

When you sit during a meal, you invite mindfulness and appreciation to your eating experience. When you stand and eat, there can be a lot of distraction. Sitting while eating is more likely to reduce the speed at which you eat, may reduce the overall amount of calories you consume, and may increase satiety.

Studies show that sitting down for a meal may help your brain register that you’ve consumed a “real meal,” reducing the likelihood you’ll overeat during the next round of food.

You’re also more likely to feel bloated when you eat while standing. This is partly because the standing position may cause you to eat more quickly, thus increasing the amount of air swallowed during a meal, potentially worsening gas and bloating.

Also avoid eating “on the go.” It’s difficult to keep track of how much food you eat when you multi-task and munch on the go.

Mindful eating tips for the holidays
© Cooking Light

6. Make smart choices

Make high-quality proteins and fats part of your meal, as these foods will help reduce carbohydrate cravings and encourage satiation.

Load up on veggies – especially non-starch varieties that are high in fiber, good for blood-sugar control, will fill you up and provide you with healthy phytonutrients.

Some smart, non-starchy veggie options include: green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, salad greens, collard greens, mustard greens, green beans, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, artichokes and fennel. Starchier veggies like butternut squash and sweet potatoes can still be part of a well-balanced plate, just eat 1/2 cup portions of these.

Ten mindful eating tips that will help you stay on track with a healthy diet, enjoy the foods you love and avoid weight gain during the holiday season.
Roasted Garlic, Lemon, & Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes, © dennistheprescott.com

7. Engage all of your senses and focus on the food

Slowing down the pace at which you experience your meal helps you eat with intention and lets you enjoy your food more mindfully.

When you sit down to eat, engage your senses and savor your meal. While taste is a primary element of the meal, also appreciate how the food looks on your plate. Take a moment and assess the color(s) and aroma of your food. Ask yourself if you really want it and if it’s more than you need?

Enjoy your food by savoring each and every bite. How does the texture and temperature feel in your mouth? Think about the sounds it makes as you chew. What flavors can you taste? Is it salty or sweet, mild or spicy? Consider the types of nutrients you’re consuming.

Put your fork down between bites and appreciate every aspect of what you’re eating before you take another bite.

Ten mindful eating tips that will help you stay on track with a healthy diet, enjoy the foods you love and avoid weight gain during the holiday season.

8. Chew slowly and chew more

Slow down the pace at which you eat. Digestion begins with the act of chewing; enzymes in saliva chemically break down food and your teeth break it down physically. The more you chew, the more efficiently you digest your food and absorb its nutrients.

Increasing the number of chews before swallowing may contribute to a lower risk of obesity. Eating more slowly can reduce appetite and increase feelings of fullness, both of which may reduce the total number of calories consumed during a meal.

Aim to chew each bite 30-40 times (rough guide) before swallowing. Research suggests that chewing food forty times (instead of the usual 15) can cut your calorie intake by 12 percent. This technique may prevent overeating by giving your gut time to tell your brain that you’re full.

Mindful eating tips for the holidays
Tom Brady nomming on a turkey leg

9. Eat with your non-dominant hand

If you’re right-handed, eat with your left-hand. If appropriate, use chopsticks. This challenging technique forces you to bring awareness to your meal and makes you slow down the pace at which you eat and can reduce your total caloric intake.

It will also help keep your brain sharp. Sure, it may feel awkward as hell and you might look like a weirdo, but embrace the fact that you are doing something healthy for yourself. Own the weirdness!

Mindful eating tips for holidays
© youbeauty.com

10. Resign from the Clean Plate Club

Just quit already. It’s completely okay not to finish everything on your plate. If your belly is feeling full, stop eating. Leave the last few bites of food on your plate and consider packing the leftovers to go. I understand no-one likes to waste food, but overstuffing yourself silly won’t help those in need.

Ten mindful eating tips that will help you stay on track with a healthy diet, enjoy the foods you love and avoid weight gain during the holiday season.
FRIENDS, ‘The One With The Late Thanksgiving’, (Season 10, epis. #226) | © Warner Bros.

Thoughts about these mindful eating tips?

These 10 mindful eating tips will help you intentionally focus on the present during the holiday season. Practicing these mindful eating techniques throughout the day, every day, will help you invite good health, happiness, and meaningful experiences into your life.

  • What do you think of my mindful eating tips?
  • How do YOU stay healthy during the holiday season?

Author Details
Founder and CEO of BambooCore
Jennifer is a certified NASM Personal Trainer, MovNat Trainer, and a C.H.E.K Holistic Lifestyle/Nutrition Coach. As the Founder and CEO of BambooCore Fitness, she delivers sustainable lifestyle, nutrition and movement strategies to people looking to improve their health and performance.

When she is not slaying fat and building muscle, Jennifer can be found trekking barefoot, traveling, cooking and refining her photography skills. She also enjoys reading and writing about food culture, history and the science of human movement.
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Founder and CEO of BambooCore
Jennifer is a certified NASM Personal Trainer, MovNat Trainer, and a C.H.E.K Holistic Lifestyle/Nutrition Coach. As the Founder and CEO of BambooCore Fitness, she delivers sustainable lifestyle, nutrition and movement strategies to people looking to improve their health and performance.

When she is not slaying fat and building muscle, Jennifer can be found trekking barefoot, traveling, cooking and refining her photography skills. She also enjoys reading and writing about food culture, history and the science of human movement.

Comments

  1. Sarah Cummings

    this is some really great advice. now, i must use it!

    1. Thank you for reading! I find it helpful to start practicing with just a few of these tips… you don’t have to wait for the holidays to do so… just choose 1-3 tips from this list and put focus to them each time you eat…once you get a handle on them, add a new technique… if you practice every day, some (or all) of these mindful eating tips will eventually become habit – and you will crush it when it’s time to celebrate something special! Good luck!

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