Tis the season for Holiday Parties with work engagements, family and social events, so how do you navigate a healthy lifestyle and nutrition amidst holiday sugar bliss?

The key is to eat mindfully.

Mindful eating is the process of paying attention to your eating experience

It is a mindset that requires you to trust your natural instincts and listen to your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues.
When you eat mindfully, you check in with the way that food makes you feel. You can change your focus to enjoying whole foods in natural colors, rather than focusing on needing to restrict foods to stay on track with health goals.

To learn to eat mindfully, start by practicing mindful eating during prep and cooking:

  • What does the food look like? Is it appealing, or unappealing? Are there many colors of the food in the meal?
  • What do you hear? Is the food sizzling?
  • What does the food smell like? Are there smells other than the food?
  • How does the food feel in your hands? What’s the texture like?

Then practice eating mindfully during a meal:

  • Place the food in your mouth and resist chewing it for a few moments. Notice if it has any taste before chewing.
  • Once chewing, does the taste change? How is the texture. Chew your food completely (at least 20 chews per bite).
  • Digestion starts in the mouth, so this practice helps with indigestion as well.
  • Notice how the food feels descending from your esophagus to your stomach.

Before a Party or Holiday Meal, Prepare:

  • Start your day mindfully, or with exercise. When you start your day on a healthy note, you’ll be more likely to continue on this pattern during the day’s events.
  • Hydrate before the meal. Drink 1-2 glasses of water.
  • Take a few deep breaths and pull your attention to your breaths to center yourself before you begin eating.
  • Give yourself permission to enjoy the meal. Reflect with gratitude for whole foods.

Listen to Your Body Through the Meal:

  • Recognize when you have had enough to eat, or when you want more.
  • Take time to do this by putting your fork down between bites.
  • Chew the food slowly. Try to recognize ingredients.
  • A sign of fullness is that food becomes less appetizing, or doesn’t taste as good as it did when you began the meal.

Other tips:

  • Watch out for sugary appetizers. Significant intake of sugar and processed foods can also disrupt the body’s natural fullness cues.
  • Instead, choose foods with quality protein and fats, and fill your plate with mostly veggies so you can experience fullness without regret.
  • Then, waiting a few minutes before getting seconds can also help your body become more attuned to hunger and fullness cues.

By eating mindfully, and continuing to make food choices based on how they make you feel, you not only survive your holiday parties, but also you will be able to more fully enjoy and be present with the company you are in.

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