Holidays can be a time of parties and celebrations, where you are around or offered more rich and decadent food and beverages than you normally would, in your every day life. You may also find yourself in stressful situations around family or busy social situations where you may feel uncomfortable, overwhelmed or over excited. For some of us, this can lead to eating unconsiously, over-eting or trigger emotional eating.
Here are 5 tips to stay mindful of what you are consuming over the holidays.
1. Be prepared. If you are going to an after-work Christmas party or celebration where you know there will be especially rich food or alcohol, you could have a small healthy & filling meal before you go. This way you wont arrive starving hungry and therefore, choosing foods that you’ll regret later… and can also minimise your desire to over-eat. Also, upon arriving you will have some food in your stomach, so if you chose to drink this will create a buffer to help metabolise the affects of alcohol more effectively .. most of us know how quickly alcohol goes to our head when we drink on an empty stomach… !!
2. Check in with yourself. Taking the time to pause before a festive gathering or part way through, can be a very powerful and effective way to bring mindfulness into how and what you eat and drink. If the desire to overeat is there, stay mindful of that feeling to eat ... And is there a feeling or need behind this? Are you excited & feel it’s time to celebrate and therefore eat more? Does it feel like a good excuse to reward and treat yourself? Or are you nervous or stressed being around family or larger groups of people and therefore feel the desire to eat or drink for comfort?
It is important during this process that we adopt an attitude of compassion for ourself no matter what may be arising physically, mentally or emotionally. Let go of the need to self – judge or shame. Can you release the idea or good / bad or right / wrong … ? Instead notice what you are feeling with curiosity and kindness.
3. Be mindful of quantities. Be mindful of how much you put your plate… do you chose to pile your plate high? If so, is your stomach really this hungry or is this desire coming from an underlying emotion as listed above. Remember, if you start with a smaller serving you can always go back for more, if you are still hungry. Try enjoying the taste of things. Maybe a spoonful or 2 of ice-cream or pudding is enough?
4. Be gentle with yourself. If you have a day of eating more than usual, this is ok, acknowledge it and maybe the following day your appetite will be smaller so you will naturally eat less...almost like a mini-detox so the body has a chance to fully digest and cleanse. As mentioned above in #2 … avoid the temptation to criticise yourself for over-eating or drinking… this is like a double-edged sword and only makes us feel worse.
5. Enjoy! Importantly, if you decide to consume something you consider a “treat” such as dessert, chocolate, wine or that extra helping of food, then really say Yes ! Allow yourself to fully enjoy the experience completely without needing to feel guilt or indecision. Remember you are in control of your food choices so once you make the decision, give yourself full permission to feel good about anything you put into your mouth!