The holiday season has always been my favorite time of year. December is often accompanied with a rush of emotions, family, stress, shopping, food-filled get-togethers, and colder weather (although here in Texas, colder weather might be questionable.) Some of these holiday events can especially throw off our normal food patterns and make it easier to neglect our bodily cues of hunger and fullness.
One method of approaching these situations is Mindful Eating. The Center for Mindful Eating (www.tcme.org) explains that our relationship to food is a central one that reflects our attitudes toward our environment and ourselves. Mindful eating is all about slowly and deliberately walking yourself through the process of eating.
Here are a few simplified steps for starters:
1. Get comfortable and remove distractions.
2. Identify your hunger level on a scale of 1-10.
3. Be aware of your thoughts about your food; separate what your body is saying vs. what you are thinking.
4. Take a deep breath.
5. Smell and feel the food. Try and describe it in detail.
6. Take one bite, close your eyes, and savor…slowly! Make note of the flavors, textures, and smells.
7. After completely swallowing the piece of food, ask yourself if it tasted different than the last time you ate the same food. Are you more satisfied than usual? Less satisfied than usual?
Mindful eating is helpful in slowing down the process of eating. One key principle is to eat only when you feel hungry and to stop when you feel full. However…the trick is trying to incorporate this into your holiday schedule. With such a wide variety of foods at potlucks and parties, mindful eating can help to increase your satisfaction from food with a lesser amount. Eating at a slower rate will help to discourage overeating as well.
Test out mindful eating before you hit the party scene and see for yourself if it makes a difference. After the New Year, try to continue using this technique to keep your daily eating habits in check. Just like many fast-paced things in life, don’t forget to “stop and smell the roses!”
Parts of this article were adapted with permission from “Mindful Eating” by Amy Culp, RD, LD, CSSD in Austin Fit Magazine.