It’s the most delicious…I mean, wonderful 😉 time of the year! With all the pumpkin spice, peppermint mocha, and snickerdoodle cookies galore, it’s easy to go into the last couple months of the year and undo a lot of the progress we’ve made during the year. These special occasions only come around once a year, so it’s important to recognize the traditions we want to uphold while also being mindful of our eating habits and our actions. Practicing mindful eating, especially during the holiday season, is essential for so many reasons.
But what exactly does it mean to eat mindfully?
Consider these five tips for practicing mindful eating this holiday season little gifts to yourself. Not only will these tips help you feel more in control and balanced, but they’ll also set the motion for sustainable, positive lifestyle habits so that you can enjoy the holidays without the extra pounds or the extra guilt!
Top 5 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating
1. Eat Slowly—Don’t Rush Meals
As a busy mom with a crazy schedule, I know this is sometimes difficult to do. But it’s so important to take your time during meals instead of rushing. When we rush, we’re not allowing our minds to catch up with our bodies and our digestion to realize we’re getting full. Instead, it’s like a food frenzy free-for-all. The faster we eat, the faster we finish, and our minds still think we’re hungry, which makes us more likely to grab something not so healthy on our way out the door to our next activity.
Your holiday gift to yourself: Slow it down. Take your time chewing, and focus on enjoying the food on your plate and living in the moment of your meal. If you’re eating alone, consider it like a date night with yourself. If you’re eating with the family, set the dinner table for everyone and go around the table talking about your day. Keep the conversation flowing, and let the meal drag out a little longer than you normally do. Make the meal an event that you don’t want to cut out early!
2. Eliminate Distractions
Just like when we eat too fast, we’re more likely to miss our “fullness” signals when we eat while we’re distracted. I’ll be the first to admit I’m guilty when it comes to this. It’s so darn easy to grab my phone and scroll through social media or answer emails while I’m eating. But honestly, guys, we do a disservice to ourselves when we do this. We’re not letting our minds focus on the job our bodies are doing when we eat, and again, we’re more likely to think we’re still hungry long after we finish our meals.
Your holiday gift to yourself: Put the phone away and turn your TV off. At least during meal time. Set the table and make yourself a place to eat. No standing, no reading, no thinking about your never-ending to-do list. Just you, your loved ones, and your meal. Focus on savoring those bites and enjoy the food you worked so hard to prepare. Instagram will be there when you finish. 😉
3. Let Go of Emotional Eating
Sometimes, without even realizing it, we tie an emotional factor to our foods. When we celebrate, we go out for pizza or ice cream. When we’re sad, we grab a handful of cookies and curl up on the couch. When we’re bored, we’re more likely to find ourselves standing in front of our pantries. Learning to recognize these habits is one of the most important things you can do for self-awareness and growth.
Your holiday gift to yourself: Write down a list of SMART Goals and include rewards for when you achieve them. The catch? Make these rewards non-food related. And have a boredom plan in place too. Instead of grabbing a bag of chips when you curl up watching your favorite reality shows at night, put together a quick workout you can do during the commercial breaks. Bonus: Do five burpees every time Vicki says “Whoop it up” on The Real Housewives of OC. 😉
4. Focus on Your Intuition
Come on, ladies, we all know we were born with a sixth sense, right? Our intuition is there for a reason: to protect us, to help us with parenting decisions, and to even help us realize when we’ve had enough to eat. I know it may sound silly, but it’s true. Learning to eat intuitively is such an important step that not a lot of people realize. When we eat intuitively, we really learn to listen to our bodies and understand when we’re hungry instead of bored and when we’re full instead of mindlessly continuing to eat.
Your holiday gift to yourself: Practice paying attention to how you feel when you eat. Are you still hungry after your plate is clean? What is your breathing like during meal time? Do you find yourself sighing a lot before taking the next bite? This could be a huge indicator that you’re actually full. Pro tip: Next time you find yourself feeling “hungry” throughout your usual snack time, drink 8 ounces of cold water. If you still feel hunger pains after that, then grab a healthy snack. But chances are you might just be thirsty and are mistaking that feeling for hunger!
5. Understand How Food Fuels You
Just like trusting your gut (literally), understanding how food fuels you will help you make transformative decisions when it comes to making meal and snack choices. If you track your macros, understanding why carbs are important and how many of each macro you should be eating and when is vital to your body recomposition goals. Taking that in another direction, knowing how different types of foods make you feel is key. For me, personally, I don’t eat gluten very often because of how it makes me feel. So this Thanksgiving, you probably won’t find me eating a plate full of dinner rolls because that feeling afterward just isn’t going to be worth it. Understanding how different foods can affect your day-to-day, your workouts, and your overall feeling of well-being is vital, not just for losing weight or toning up, but for feeling your best every single day also.
Your holiday gift to yourself: Pay attention to the foods you’re eating and how they affect you. Ask yourself:
- Do I feel tired and sluggish in the afternoons?
- Am I able to power through my workouts?
Knowing how your body responds to the fuel you’re feeding it will help you make better, healthier decisions when you’re planning your meals.
Photos by Ashley Burns
Mindful eating takes practice, guys. But it’s these little steps that will make the biggest difference in your transformation goals! But just like with anything, don’t get so hung up on being perfect. It is the holiday season, after all. If you find yourself reaching for grandma’s famous cookies, allow yourself to enjoy one. Just know that healthy living is all about balance. AND, if you’re still wanting to enjoy those holiday flavors without going overboard, check out some of my favorite recipes for healthy (but still super yummy!) treats below. Give them a try this holiday season!
My Mom’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls
6 Best Healthy Holiday Recipes
Low Carb Chocolate Chip Coconut Bites
Sweet Potato Pancakes
No Bake High Protein Holiday Fudge Recipe
Pecan Pie Tartlets || Powell-Approved
Clean Eats: Sweet Potato Soufflé