Enjoy guilt-free holidays with these healthy, mindful eating tips

  • 2 Minutes Read
Sue Heikkinen
Sue Heikkinen, MS, RDN, CDCES, BC-ADM, ACE-PT - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

When you employ our mindful eating tips, the diet-challenging holidays become the perfect time to enjoy the holiday breakfasts, office banquets, and dessert buffets. This season, guilt over food choices will no longer be an annual tradition.

Mindful eating tips

The holidays offer a unique opportunity to try mindful eating tips

The heavy focus on food during the holiday season can tempt you to overeat. Holiday favorites like roast turkey and gravy, frosted cookies, and pumpkin pie often evoke powerful emotional connections. Knowing these special treats are only available once a year can throw you a curveball. Can you manage to eat these foods without going overboard? Added family and societal pressure to eat and drink while busy, stressed, and tired doesn't help. No wonder the holidays bring up contradicting feelings and foil chances for a healthy relationship with food.

Mindful eating means paying attention to your food, physical and emotional responses, and the eating experience without judgment. The rush and distractions of the holiday season encourage the opposite of mindfulness. Yet it is a perfect opportunity to incorporate even small elements of the proven practice. Following mindful eating tips can allow you to enjoy holiday food without the guilt and overeating. What better gift to give yourself?

How you can eat mindfully during the holidays

Tune in to hunger-fullness cues

Because there are countless opportunities to eat during the holiday season, there are probably many times you eat but aren’t truly hungry. One of the most productive tips for mindful eating is to ask yourself if you are eating due to social pressure, habit, or as a form of stress relief? If you are hungry, you will enjoy the food even more. If you acknowledge that you aren’t that hungry and still choose to eat (which is okay!), at least you will do so with awareness and will be less likely to overeat.

Eat from a plate

It's so easy to eat more than we intend when grazing directly from the serving trays. Survey the options beforehand, grab a small plate, then place a few favorites on the plate, skipping the everyday, ho-hum food. Putting your food on a plate allows you to move away from the table, pay attention to your food, and consider if you are truly hungry before returning for more.

Appreciate the food

An attitude of gratitude isn't just for Thanksgiving Day. Take just a moment daily to appreciate what brought the food to you, whether it was the efforts of a dear family member or the workers in a candy cane factory. Practicing gratitude encourages you to slow down and can even increase feelings of happiness!

Notice the food with all your senses—the color, the shape, the smell, the texture. Catch any memories these observations bring up for you. This awareness can lead to greater enjoyment and satisfaction compared to eating mindlessly.

Don’t deprive yourself

Totally avoiding your favorite holiday treats may cause you to crave them even more, leading to overeating. Try permitting yourself to enjoy small portions without guilt. Remind yourself that no single food will derail your efforts.

Take care of yourself

The holidays can be stressful, which may trigger emotional eating. Mindful eating strategies help you identify when you turn to food for stress relief, not hunger. Schedule some time for yourself. Allow yourself to decline events and invest in comforting activities that don't involve food. Make a list of non-food soothers, such as a bubble bath, progressing on a hobby, listening to favorite music, or sipping on a fragrant seasonal tea.

Watch your (food) language

Statements such as “I’m going to be good” or “These are bad foods, and I shouldn’t be eating them” can feel judgmental and induce guilt. Even if you don’t say such words aloud, these internal thoughts can derail you if you accept them as fact. Reframe with such statements as “I am listening to my body, enjoying the flavors of this meal, and will eat to the point of satisfaction” or “No foods are off-limits, but I will enjoy them more if I eat them mindfully.”

Make gatherings about more than the food

Despite the overarching emphasis on food during every celebration, remember what is really important–celebrating the season with family and friends. Plan a competitive board game, a volunteer project, or a post-meal walk. You never know what might become a new holiday tradition.

These mindful eating tips can help your holidays be more satisfying and launch you into healthy eating habits all year long.

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Holidays / Parties->Winter Holiday Season Weight Loss->Emotional & Mindful Eating
Oct 23, 2023

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