Monday, November 19, 2012

3 Tips for Eating Mindfully During the Holidays

Taking time to enjoy decadent holiday meals can help prevent you from overeating.

Man sitting in front of a turkey dinner.
Take time to enjoy each bite of your holiday meal.

Holidays are a great time to gather with loved ones and enjoy a meal. In the midst of lively holiday conversation, it can be hard to stay aware of how much food you’re eating. Studies have found that adults gain about one pound in between November and January, and keep that pound on throughout the following year. After several years, those pounds could add up into serious weight issues.

Mindful eating is the practice of paying attention to all the tastes, colors and smells of your meal. It also involves paying attention to yourself; and what emotions could be driving your food choices. Practicing mindful eating this holiday season could help you eat less and enjoy your food more. Here are some tips for bringing mindfulness onto your plate this holiday season:

  • Have a seat. To digest food fully, your body needs to be at rest. Standing while eating sends mixed signals to your stomach. That can make it hard to figure out whether you’re hungry or full. Try sitting down to eat instead of standing and grazing.
  • Have a good look at your plate. It’s likely that someone you care about put a lot of effort into making your holiday meal. Take a moment to appreciate all the colors, shapes, and textures on your plate before you take a bite.
  • Have some quiet time. It’s hard to pay attention to your plate when you’re in the middle of a conversation. Take a break from the table talk and converse with your food instead.

— Mary Kuzmick, MS, dietetic intern, and Debra Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

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