‘Tis the season to eat mindfully

dietandnutrition_Dec19_AFood, fun and festivities; the holiday season is a time when we all feel a need to loosen up a little and enjoy the last remnants of the year. With more social occasions and family get-togethers than usual, it is tempting to let healthy eating patterns and exercise fade away until New Year. With meals, buffets and party snacks in abundance, it is vital to make sure the festive season doesn’t mean you simply graze without thinking but that you eat mindfully, with intention and awareness. In other words, think before you eat and focus on what you are eating this holiday.

The dangers of convenience foods

Not only are we creatures of habit but also of convenience too, especially when it comes to such basics as eating. It is no surprise that foods that we can grab on the go are so popular and part of a huge industry. The danger with not having any real input in our food preparation though is that we can just about lay our hands on any type of food pretty easily, without any real effort or thought. And then we are more likely to eat more of the wrong types of foods without necessarily giving our diet too much thought.

How to actively think about what you eat

During the festive season, this mindless eating approach is exacerbated. Standing at a buffet table with appetizing canapes at your fingertips, literally, could end up with you chowing down on foods without any real thought about it. In fact, to deter this ignorant style of eating, you really need to actively focus your mind on your diet. And this is not as simple as just repeating to yourself that you are on a diet and you need to be ‘good’, which is more about will power than anything else. If you are not sure how to use your mind to curb your indulgences, especially when faced with holiday food delights, then here are a few tips on how:

  • Look at the food you are eating – Okay you might not be eating in the dark but you might as well be if you are overindulging without actually connecting with what you are eating. You don’t need to take an actual photograph but take a mental picture of what you are eating and let this image sharpen in your mind. If you saw a series of images which depicted what you ate in any given holiday day, what would you think?
  • Focus on actually eating – While dining out or family dinners can be a great opportunity to chat and bond, there is a lot to be said for bringing at least some of your attention to what you are actually doing. Again, you are creating a relationship between your mind, your body and what impact your eating patterns are having on both.
  • Focus on not eating – Try not to multi-task. Social occasions are about meeting and connecting with people. Yes, there may be food and drinks on offer, but what is really the essence of a get-together?
  • Eat slowly – It’s easy with food that tastes good to really indulge and one sure way to overeat is to gollop down what you enjoy. Instead, savor each bite and focus on the flavors. Slowing down immediately changes the whole eating experience and inspires greater mindfulness to your actions.
  • Be aware of the physical process – What is eating about? Well actually, as we all know it is about nourishing your body. However, processed foods and high-fat menu choices, have taught us that eating is about our pleasure. While you want to enjoy some festive treats this holiday, focus your thoughts on the real meaning of eating and perhaps the real spirit of the holiday season too. This simplicity can bring about great changes in your approach and your actions.
  • Question how your mind views certain foods to bring about change – Do you have a mental list of foods that are bad for you but delicious or good for you but dreadful? If you have an idea that all salads are dull then you might want to open your ideas up to another way of thinking. Kids are often conditioned to think of cakes and sweets as the ultimate treats but actually the impact on their health and the sugar cravings that follow them into adulthood mean in many respects they are far from a reward.

Let your mind influence your appetite this holiday and let us help you create the body to match too. Get in touch ready for New Year.

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