Mindful Holiday Eating Strategies

For many of us, trying to be mindful and eat healthfully throughout the holiday season is a challenge.  With cookies, candies and rich foods in abundance, the temptation exists to overindulge.  Read on for strategies on how to enjoy parties and holidays dinners and avoid overeating.  It is possible to enjoy yourself and make good choices!

  1. Don’t skip meals. Before leaving for a party, eat a light snack like raw vegetables or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite. You will be less tempted to overindulge.
  1. Survey party buffets before filling your plate. Choose your favorite foods and skip your least favorite. Include vegetables and fruits to keep your plate balanced.
  1. Be careful with beverages. Alcohol can lessen inhibitions and induce overeating; non-alcoholic beverages can be full of calories and sugar.
  1. Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Savor your favorite holiday treats while eating small portions. Sit down, get comfortable, and enjoy the event as well as the food.
  1. Stand more than an arm’s length away from munchies, like a bowl of nuts or chips, while you chat so you’re not tempted to raise your hand to your mouth every few seconds.
  1. Concentrate on your meal while you’re eating it. Focus on chewing your food well and enjoying the smell, taste, and texture of each item. Research shows that mealtime multitasking (whether at home or at a party) can make you pop mindless calories into your mouth. Of course, dinner-party-conversation is only natural, but try to set your plate down until you’re finished chatting so you are more aware of what you’re taking in.
  1. Manage portion size by taking sensible portions so you don’t end up eating too much. Try using smaller plates and serving utensils. Try a salad or dessert plate for the main course and a teaspoon to serve yourself. What looks like a normal portion on a 12-inch plate or a trough-like bowl can, in fact, be sinfully huge. In one study conducted at the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, even nutrition experts served themselves 31 percent more ice cream when using oversize bowls compared with smaller bowls. The size of the serving utensil mattered, too: Subjects served themselves 57 percent more when they used a three-ounce scoop versus a smaller scoop. Pour drinks into tall, skinny glasses, not the fat, wide kind. Other studies at Cornell have shown that people are more likely to pour 30 percent more liquid into squatty, fat glasses.
  1. Control Your Environment and eat with a small group when you can. One study found that dining with six or more people can cause you to eat 76 percent more, most likely because the meal can last so long. (After an hour of staring at the stuffing, you’re more likely to have seconds.) At a big sit-down supper, be the last one to start and the second one to stop eating. Or, sit next to a fellow healthy eater (there’s strength in numbers).
  1. Wait for all the food to be on the table before making your selections. People who make their choices all at once eat about 14 percent less than do those who keep refilling when each plate is passed.
  1. Plan time for exercise.  Exercise helps prevent stress and weight gain.  Try a 10-15 minute brisk walk daily.
  1. Keep track of what you eat by writing in a food journal.  It will help you stay committed to your goals during this risky eating period.

Maryanne Riege, Certified Holistic Health Coach, joined the Ommani Center complementary practitioner team in 2016. She works with adults and children age 16 and over assisting, supporting, directing people on their journey toward a healthy lifestyle and diet.  Schedule an appointment by calling 262.695.5311.