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7 Tips for Mindful Holiday Eating

Easy ways to manage the menagerie of tempting treats this holiday season.

How can it be?

How can it be that the holidays are already here??

How can it be that the holidays are always at the same time each year, yet somehow they still sneak up on us???!!

This time of year is loaded with what I call "food holidays"...what's intended to be social, spiritual, or celebratory can turn into sabotage of the healthy habits we've worked so hard on all year.

Yet, we still want to be able to enjoy, right?

Here's a blog post with some tips I found simple to do, sensible, and sane...I'm reposting in hopes you'll find the same.

Read on for 7 easy and mindful tips to manage the holiday feast ahead by my friend Wendy Wesley (nutritionist, wellness coach and blogger)...

It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday season where food and drink are more available and abundant than during the other 10 months of the year. By eating just 200 extra calories each day – a piece of pecan pie, a small glass of eggnog or a few butter cookies – the average American gains 2.2 pounds between Halloween and New Year’s Day according to a 2001 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. If that weight is not lost it adds up to a 22 pound gain each decade. #1 - Understand the Difference Between Outside Food and Homemade Food Catered food is different. Just understanding how caterers and restaurants prepare foods can make you a more mindful eater. At company-sponsored catered parties or ones that take place in a restaurant, the food will be higher in sodium, butter, cream and sugar. In addition, catered and restaurant foods may be deep-fried, top foods with heavy sauces, load on extra cheese, offer breads with meals and offer gargantuan portions. These things often don’t happen at home. At a local popular steak and seafood restaurant I watched a chef dip a steak in a vat of clarified butter, plate it without letting it drain, and send it to the customer. It was at that moment I clearly saw the difference. Restaurant food is different and knowing this can help you eat smaller portions or split entrees with your family and friends. # 2 - Avoid the 4th or 5th Meal Beginning your day with mindfulness about the day’s opportunities for eating can help you shape your portions and intake. If you know there is a holiday cookie exchange at work perhaps you will budget the party as “lunch” meaning you will eat the cookies as your lunch. I know that cookies are not nutritious but, on this one day only, the cookies and their calories can be considered what you eat for lunch. If the day has been a very high calorie day with unexpected treats or parties, give yourself permission to go light on dinner if your appetite is small. This plays into mindful and intuitive eating where you eat when you are truly hungry and stop when you are not.

#3 – Plate Size Matters

A Cornell University study of 1,179 participants found that adults will consume 92% of what they self-serve from a buffet or what is served to them, and children will consume 60%. This statistic shows how plats size can matter. When you first hit the buffet choose a salad or dessert plate and choose exactly what you want. Another strategy is to choose a dinner plate and fill half of it with a vegetable like a salad or a non-casserole vegetable. Then, fill up the rest of your plate with the food you love. Also know that large portions kill satiety. This means that a large serving of food on your plate can override your natural satiety cues. Eating a smaller first portion, socializing for 10 minutes and then returning for another portion can give your body and chance to respond to hunger and satiety hormones.

#4 – Treat Your Appetite Like an Expense Account Believe it or not there is a limit to the amount of food your stomach will hold and you will want to avoid that uncomfortable feeling you get when you overeat. To avoid this think of your appetite as an expense account that has limits. Do you want to spend your money on the appetizers or the dessert? Maybe the entrée is your favorite. Choose to indulge in your favorites and skim or pass on the others.

#5 - Be a Food Snob Take a bite. How does it taste? Skip the store-bought goodies, dried-out fudge and factory-made mini quiche (unless those are your favorites). Donate your calories in your expense account to your favorite foods and forget all the rest. Just because it landed on your plate, either by your own hand or a “food pusher” does not mean you have to eat it. Don’t become a people pleaser and don’t let guilt run the show. Each food choice is yours and it is made with a clear mind and direct intentions.

#6 – Make Peace with Food this Season The minute we begin to deny ourselves is the minute we begin to crave. Have you ever “behaved” at a holiday event and then overate when you got home or the next day? This is the deprivation/craving phenomena and it often produces feelings of anxiety and guilt. Each food choice is made with a clear mind and direct intentions. This choice for green pepper on top of a salad is the same for a piece of chocolate cake and that choice is yours to be made without guilt or shame.

#7 – Know Physical Hunger from Emotional Hunger

Be cautious of “obligatory eating.” Avoid eating “because it’s there.” Avoid eating “because it’s free.” Avoid eating “because Aunt Marge will be disappointed.” Avoid eating “because Bob in Accounting said, ‘it’s awesome!’” Do not let guilt run the show. Remember: Each food choice is made with a clear mind and direct intentions.

Avoid eating because of: Boredom Anger Sadness Anxiety Loneliness Tiredness Do not “eat at a problem.” Signs of Physical Hunger: Comes on gradually and can be postponed Can be satisfied with any type of food Once you are full you can stop eating Causes satisfaction and does not cause guilt Signs of Emotional Hunger: Comes on suddenly and feels urgent Causes specific cravings (pizza, candy, ice cream) You eat more than you normally would and feel uncomfortable Leaves you with feelings of guilt and shame Replace the habit of stress eating with a new habit. Call a friend. Take a walk. Holidays can be full of emotions. Eating can dull a pain but cannot relieve one.

Learn more about Wendy and find more helpful information at

Many blessings to you, my mavens...may you enjoy marvelous, mindful munching!


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