The Busiest Time of Year
The holidays are coming. They can be the busiest time of year. In fact, when it comes to eating, the holidays can be a time to say goodbye to any healthy eating strategy or principle. It is hard to hold on to diet plans, meal plans, or keep up with food trackers while you are trying to keep up with your holiday plans as well. Besides, with so many delicious, comforting foods available, why not wait until January first to diet anyway, right? Well…
Let’s get back to Intuitive Eating for a moment. As you might remember from previous articles, Intuitive Eating is a mind-body health approach to eating that is weight-neutral and absolutely NOT A DIET or a meal plan. Intuitive Eating is based on ten principles:
- Reject the diet mentality
- Honor your hunger
- Make peace with food
- Challenge the food police
- Respect your fullness
- Discover the satisfaction factor
- Honor your feelings without using food
- Respect your body
- Exercise – feel the difference
- Honor your health
Intuitive Eating During the Holidays
You can use your intuitive eating skills during the holidays to better enjoy your holiday, think about the size of your waistband less (and hopefully that habit sticks), really enjoy the food you are eating, and take care of yourself during one of the busiest times of the year.
This season I am writing a series of articles on strategies for improving your intuitive eating skills holiday-style! Sometimes we need to adjust what we do for special times or seasons in our lives. This time of year can be especially stressful and busy for some. Let’s try to get the most out of it!
Making Time for Mindful Eating
Mindful Eating is one tool that can be used to help improve your intuitive eating skills. Using mindful eating, you can
- be better attuned to your hunger and fullness
- improve your food satisfaction
- honor your health
- honor you feelings without using food
It’s safe to say that mindful eating covers a lot of intuitive eating principles.
The Center for Mindful Eating (yes, that’s a thing) describes mindful eating in part as: Mindful eating helps us become aware of our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations related to eating, reconnecting us with our innate inner wisdom about hunger and satiety. Click here for a broader definition on mindful eating and what it can do for your body.
Being more mindful while your eating might be as simple as being present while you are eating your meals. That means getting rid of the distractions when you can and focusing on your food, and the people you are enjoying eating your food with. It could also mean creating an experience while cooking the food. Could you prepare the meal with your children, or other loved ones to create a memory, for example?
Mindful eating might be looking at a food item as if it were the first time you have ever eaten it. Really look at that first bite. What does it look like? Does it have a smell? If you touched it, what would the texture be? When you put the food in your mouth and begin to chew, think about each flavor as it comes to you. What are they? What is the texture now? Try this with a couple of bites, and see if you have any new sensations or thoughts about your food!
Finally, you might think about where your food came from. For many in the United States, Thanksgiving is coming up. As we come upon a day of gratefulness, you might consider where your food came from. Did it grow from the ground, or somewhere else? Even if it came from a box, it did come from somewhere. How many farmers, and other workers were part of bringing your food to the table? You might take a moment to thank them as part of a mindful eating practice for Thanksgiving.
How to Fit In Mindful Eating When Life is Busy
- Choose one distraction free meal per day – or at least the first 5 minutes of one meal if you are too busy
- Choose to sit down when eating instead of eating while standing
- During a holiday meal spend time focused on loved ones and the taste of your meals vs technology (phones, television, etc)
- Eat holiday desserts you love when you know you will be able to eat them slowly and mindfully – this way you will be able to enjoy every bite. Use the strategy described above for eating like it is your first time
- Take three deep breaths before your meals to slow down and remind yourself to eat mindfully
- Create a gratefulness practice before your holiday meals; share this with your family or loved ones
- When feeling the need to mindlessly munch, take a breath and ask “What do I need right now?”
What are your mindful eating strategies? How will you choose to eat more mindfully this holiday season?
Niki is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of New Frontier Nutrition LLC. Niki works to help clients create a diet-free life with Intuitive Eating strategies. She lives at home with her partner, two dogs, and three cats.