Christmas is one week away. And now that there is finally snow on the ground, it’s beginning to feel a lot like the holidays; Christmas parties – Dinner parties- Cocktails…Oh my! Over the last few weeks, the web has been swarming with tips on how to reduce your caloric load over the holidays and how to survive the season with minimal weight gain. But today’s post isn’t about which foods to eat and which to avoid nor is it about the caloric impact of holiday beverages because frankly, there is no shortage of that information. Instead, I want to discuss another approach, one that is just as efficient, the mindful approach.
Mindful eating is the non-judgmental awareness of the physical and emotional sensations associated with eating. It’s also described as deliberately paying attention to the eating experience, which, during the holiday frenzy and all its distractions, is easier said than done. So, here are some pointers to help you spend a more mindful and merry Christmas.
Start by setting the right expectation
Many clients report intense feelings of anxiety leading-up to the holidays. Especially those who have been actively losing weight and fear the lost pounds will spring back overnight. But here’s the thing: You are not helpless. You are in control.
By heading into the holiday season convincing yourself that weight-gain will be inevitable, you will most likely prove yourself right. On the other hand, if you head into the holiday season expecting to lose weight as effectively as you have been during the rest of the year, knowing that your efforts will not be as consistent, you may then face disappointment.
Which brings me to the point of setting the right expectation. You should spend your holidays focusing on the people you are with, not on your scale. That said, many of my weight-loss clients set a goal for weight maintenance during the holidays. This way, we simply pick-up where we left off afterwards. To achieve this, it usually means sneaking in a few extra sweat sessions during the holidays, staying as active as possible.
Be aware of all your food choices
One of the key mindfulness principles is choosing to eat food that is pleasing to you and nourishing to your body. Keep this in mind when confronted with elaborate Christmas spreads. Though you may feel tempted to give everything a try, focus on a few foods that you know will give the most pleasure and satisfaction. Because when the eating experience yields maximum satisfaction, it will be easier to settle for less of it.
Savor each bite
Do you taste each bite of food? Do you notice the balance between sour-sweet-bitter and acid in your meal? Do you enjoy what you’re eating? These activities are not reserved for the Iron Chef judgment panel. This applies to you, in your everyday. Look at it this way, the food you eat during the holidays was prepared with much love and effort, so take pleasure in it. Enjoy it. This usually means taking smaller bites and slowing down either by putting down your fork, engaging in dinner conversation or pacing yourself with slowest person at the table.
Listen to your body
Too much holiday spirit can distract us from paying attention to those important hunger/fullness cues. To avoid eating beyond the point of fullness, you need to turn on the awareness factor and reassess your hunger level during the meal. A true mindful eater pays close attention to his body’s satiety signals, stopping when he feels almost full.
Don’t lose your holiday cheer!
Judgement has no place during the holidays. Get rid of any feelings of guilt or anger associated with holiday eating which may cause a toxic build-up and an eventual need to overindulge. So you went a little overboard…it happens. Just be aware of it, accept it, try to understand why it happened and vow to be more mindful at your next meal.
Mindfulness is your most important accessory this holiday season. So don’t leave the house without it!
Can you believe Christmas is one week away? Does the holiday season make you anxious? Are you planning a mindful and merry Christmas?
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