Mindful Eating this Holiday Season –Tips to Help You Enjoy The Season

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By Demetrious Farrow, PA

Let’s face it –we all love food. Over the years many of us have become foodies, trying new things, hoping to find that new restaurant to take family and friends to. There’s a lot of excitement in the experience of finding and eating great food, but too much of those wonderful dishes can come with consequences, particularly weight gain. Most of us will admit that during the year it’s pretty easy to eat in moderation to monitor what and how much we eat. However, if we’re honest, we’ll also admit that the holidays tend to be the time of year we all over-indulge in the abundance of traditional holiday foods. During the last months of the year, there are multiple Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving dinners to attend, followed by December holidays with many traditions including decadent sweets. This can be a very stressful time of year for those who have worked so hard to watch their weight all year.

The months of November and December can be very stressful. When our body detects stress, it releases adrenaline and cortisol, which in turn interact with insulin levels and hunger hormones. This process can lead to urges to eat foods high in fat and sugar content. The brain can also sense some foods as a reward, causing us to eat even more. To beat the cravings from stress, we need to first identify when we’re stress-eating. Generally, if you have recently eaten and are craving a specific food, it’s an emotional or stress-related craving. Physical cravings have more to do with the last time you ate and being physically hungry.

Stress eating tends to be more prevalent late at night, during mid-afternoon, or immediately following a stressful event. Stress cravings tend to be more persistent than just physical cravings. It’s harder to ignore pefasty persistent food cravings when they won’t stop recurring. And lastly, most people who stress eat will have a sense of guilt after they eat. Being mindful of the circumstances that drive us to eat during the holidays can help keep us from over-indulging in foods that ultimately are unhealthy for both mind and body.

Here are some helpful tips to avoid over-eating during the holidays, while mindfully watching your weight:

  1. Plan ahead-if invited to a gathering, take a lightweight dish like a charcuterie board. You can eat from it first before digging into the heavier foods on the table.You can also let others know in advance that you are watching your weight, garnering a support system before you even arrive at the activity.
  2. Drink a large glass of water before you get to the event, then continue drinking water right before you eat. This will help fill you up, leading to less food consumption.
  3. Weigh yourself before the holidays to be able to track weight gains and losses.
  4. Watch your alcohol intake. Alcohol can lower your inhibitions and self-control, causing you to lose track of eating.
  5. When faced with a large selection of delectable food choices, mindfully scan the entire spread and pick certain foods to eat rather than sampling every option on the table.6.Keep active, exercise through the holiday, avoiding sedentary activities.


6 https://www.psycom.nethow-to-avoid-holiday-overeating

6 https://www.sbm.org/healthy-living/stress–eating-habits-how-to-manage-stress–eat-healthy-during-the-holidays