Thanksgiving is over…but I am still enjoying leftovers! How about you? The holiday eating season has begun…the time when most of us indulge in our favorite treats and have a busier social schedule. We are less than 5 weeks away from New Year…when a majority of Americans will gain weight and look back wondering if it was worth it?
Eating well is not about perfection, or giving up your favorite foods. A better approach involves honoring your body and knowing what works best for you and just as importantly… what doesn’t work. For example, if I go to a party and eat sugar-laden treats and cheese, I will definitely feel the after effects. Feeling sick, tired, and bloated is not how I want to feel the next day.
Mindful eating aims to reconnect you more deeply with the experience of eating and drinking. It is the process of deliberately paying attention to what is happening both within yourself and in your environment during mealtime and social events. Often this can help you to make better choices based on past experiences. When you eat mindfully, you are in tune with the aroma, taste, and texture of food and become more aware of your appetite. Mindful eating brings enjoyment (and control) back to eating. It helps sheds light on how food affects your body – positive or negative.
NOW is a perfect time to try a new approach and bring greater mindfulness into your planning and indulging this season! Try some of these strategies to keep you focused on your wellness goals. Just like anything else in life….preparation is the key.
8 Strategies to Slow Down and Stay on Track During the Holidays
- Remember your goals. It is a good idea to write down your wellness goals before you hit the holiday parties and festivities. If you want to feel great (and avoid the extra pounds), you will be less likely to over-indulge. Set an intention for how you would like to feel after each meal and hold yourself accountable by sharing with a friend or spouse. Sometimes treating yourself to your favorite sugary sweet and other pleasure food is exactly what the moment calls for…however, most of the time, you will feel better if you refrain!
- Pause & connect. After you give thanks for your meal, but before you pick up your fork, take a moment to connect with your appetite. How hungry do you feel? Of all the food on the table, what are you truly hungry for? What flavors will nourish you and replenish your energy? Fill your plate first with the nourishing foods your body needs most. Then, finish your plate with smaller amounts of those traditional holiday favorites.
- Clear digital distractions. At holiday time when family and friends gather from near and far, it is easy to forget to turn off the digital devices that are such a huge part of our lives. Sure, someone may complain about missing a key play in the big game (my house on Thanksgiving;)), but what is truly important? Everyone at your table should be in the moment for the main part of the meal…free of distraction and enjoying a precious time of fellowship.
- Relax…and engage the senses. Take five deep breaths before your meal. Take small bites and focus on chewing slowly… notice the smell, color, and flavor of your food. Consider the nutrients that the food will provide for you. Digestion begins with the act of chewing. Salivary enzymes break down food the moment it enters your mouth. Your taste buds awaken to flavors as you chew. Pause between bites to set your utensils down and breathe.
- Respond to pushers politely. Perhaps you know exactly what I mean. That friend or relative that asks you repeatedly why you are not indulging at a party or having dessert (or seconds!) Consider responding politely that you are there for the people and fellowship, not the food. Perhaps you have already eaten your dinner so you can focus on the people and have a good time. This limits the risk of offending anyone…especially the cook.
- Avoid or limit alcohol. Alcohol reduces your inhibitions and can therefore cause you to overindulge, making poor choices. Most types of alcohol are filled with sugar and empty calories. Instead, bring or ask for sparkling water with lemon or lime. If you do drink…stick to one drink and sip slow and make it last, then switch to water.
- Stay active and people-focused rather than entirely zeroing in on the food. Plan on an activity to look forward to after a meal like a walk on the beach, miniature golf, or visiting with other friends or family. Offering to clean up and help your host helps prevents overeating or reaching for dessert. Sit next to someone you find genuinely interesting and engage in conversation with them.
- Don’t beat yourself up. I see this all to often with my clients…they are laden with guilt over slipping back into old habits. Leave the guilt behind! Guilt is a toxic emotion that creates more harm than good. When things get out of control (which they do), simply make a change and begin to revert back to your healthy habits. If you indulge a little, be gentle with yourself and don’t judge or be critical. Ask yourself if you enjoyed the process. How did you react to the food that you ate? Pay attention and move on by making a U-turn back to the foods and activities that make you feel your best!
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season! Be sure to stay connected. I will be sending out exciting information about the New Years ECF Detox Program and discounts for 2017! If you want a sneak peak and are ready to kick off the New Year feeling your best then CLICK HERE for all the juicy details!
I am so excited for 2017 and all that is in store for YOU! Together let’s work to meet your wellness goals so you can accomplish all your dreams for the New Year! ~ Julie 🙂