The holiday season is here and if you are concerned that you will gain weight like in past years, let me assure you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Holiday weight gain often comes from mindless eating such as eating fast without even tasting the food, munching mindlessly on hor d’oeuvres before dinner or having that second piece of pecan pie because you felt pressured by the host. In contrast, when you eat mindfully, you are more aware of your eating habits and the sensations you experience when you eat such as the taste, texture and aroma of the food.
Here are 5 easy ways to get started:
1. Slow down. Are you the first one to finish your meal or the last one? Before you begin eating, think about how you will proceed to eat your meal. Consciously decide that you will slow down, and allow at least 20-30 minutes to eat. Take the time to appreciate the food you are eating.
2. Sit down at the table. Eating while standing in front of the refrigerator, buffet table or while walking around will decrease your attention and satisfaction with your meal. Instead, plan to sit while eating, even at a buffet party. Fill your plate appropriately with food, and find a table to sit. Friends and family will likely join you and you can enjoy nice conversation while being more mindful of your eating.
3. Savor your food. Focus on each bite of food that you put into your mouth. Experience the taste, texture, flavors and aroma of the food. Is it sweet, salty, sour, crunchy, or smooth? Do you like it, dislike it, or it’s just okay? If you aren’t fully satisfied with it, don’t finish it.
4. Be in the moment. Are you fully present when you are eating? Be sure to turn off the television, avoid reading or talking on the phone while eating. These activities take away from the mindfulness of eating.
5. Put your fork down periodically throughout the meal. Observe what you do with your silverware during the meal. Do you keep it in your hand? Are you preparing the next bite of food on the fork while chewing what’s in your mouth? When you turn your attention to the next bite, you are not being mindful and completely miss the food that you are currently eating. Instead of enjoying the food in your mouth, you are focusing on matters beyond the present. So this year, put your fork down on the table while you are chewing and give all your attention to the food in your mouth. When you finish that bite, pick up the fork and take another.
These 5 easy ways will get you started on your journey towards mindful eating and help you avoid unwanted holiday weight gain.
For more strategies on surviving the holidays without overwhelm and overeating, click here.