Turn Mindless Eating into Mindful Mouthfuls

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Now that we are getting into December, the holiday festivities are likely beginning, and that means treats at work, extra treats at home, holiday baking and parties! What a great time! It’s also a challenging time for some when it comes to food. Have you ever been at a party, and they have appetizers that are mediocre at best, but you just keep eating them even though they’re not that good and you’re not really hungry? If you stopped and asked yourself, ‘Why am I eating this?’ your answer would likely be, ‘I’m not sure….’. This is an example of mindless eating – in the holiday season this happens a lot because we are in social situations or in situations when there are just so many delicious treats around. The slippery slope of mindless eating is then, the guilt and shame afterwards that leads to thoughts like  ‘ah well, I ate so much crap today, it’s a write-off, I’ll just order pizza for dinner’.  And so it continues until we think, ‘I’ll just eat better in January, it’s too hard over the holidays.’

It doesn’t have to be like that. Have your cake/treat (the one you really like, not the mediocre one) and eat it too! Today we’ll discuss some tips for turning the mindless eating of the holidays into mindful mouthfuls that you will enjoy. Turn that guilt and shame into self-care and forgiveness, and enjoy your food during the holidays!

1.       Plan ahead! A lot holiday festivities are in the late afternoon and spill into dinner time. If they are just serving appetizers and desserts, have a well-balanced snack before heading to the party – grab some fruit and nut butter, crackers and cheese or hummus and veggies and then head to the party. This way you won’t have to eat things you don’t actually enjoy and can focus on eating the things you want to eat because they are delicious!

2.       Grab a glass of water when you arrive! We often mistake thirst for hunger, so make sure you are well hydrated from the get-go. If you’re drinking alcohol, grab a glass of water in between drinks too. This is a great strategy to stay hydrated, pace yourself and avoid grabbing sugary drinks throughout the evening.

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3.       Choose items that you enjoy – don’t just eat because the food is there. Seriously, how many times have you been in the middle of eating some dried out baby carrots dipped in an excessive amount of ranch dressing just to make them palatable because… they were there? Be selective and eat to enjoy the food. You owe yourself that!

4.       Grab a napkin instead of a plate. You’ll be a lot pickier about what you choose to eat and will end up eating what you like (see tip 3)! If you do a tour to see what is available first, you will also be able to make a more informed decision when you do choose something to eat. This works well for any food situation!

5.       Enjoy yourself! If there were some great, chocolate-salted caramel cupcakes there and you weren’t planning on having a cupcake, but they’re your favorite and you want one, then have one, but don’t feel bad about it. Be kind to yourself and enjoy your holidays rather than feeling guilty over what you choose to eat.

By stopping yourself and making sure you have mindful mouthfuls, you can navigate the holidays with ease and without too much worrying about what to eat. Eat, drink and be merry this holiday season, and don’t forget to be kind to yourself!