Merry and Mindful Holiday Eating

Filed Under: Holiday Eating

14 December 2016 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

It’s hard to believe that the year is coming to an end and the holidays are upon us! The holidays are like assorted sweets – there are some we like and some we don’t. For many people this time of year is difficult: we are out of our routine, we’re spending time with people we don’t normally spend time with, there are pressures and stresses around social engagements, there is much travelling and shopping. There is so much focus on food at this time of the year that many of us also struggle with overeating, worrying we will gain weight or about how we look.

Set an intention for the holidays

What type of holiday season do you want? What do you want to do? What don’t you want to do? Share this with the people sharing this time with you. Try and diversify your fun and pleasure – choose some non-food related activities.

Practice “inner wisdom” and “outer wisdom”

“Inner Wisdom” is how we are feeling physically, emotionally and mentally.

“Outer Wisdom” is being aware of the nutritional content of a meal and how the food will fuel your body. Try find a balance between eating foods that nourish your body and foods with zero nutritional value that you eat for the pure taste and experience.

When eating, just eat…

Whatever you eat, put it on a plate. Avoid picking at food or eating while standing up. Sit down. Pay attention to your food. Before eating, take a breath, chew your food and slooow right down. Eating with your full attention and not behind your own back will help you to enjoy and savour your food.

Practice The Pause

Pause before you eat. Pause before you spend. Pause before you react.

Eat your favourite food first

Survey the spread! Eat only what you want (not what others think you should eat or taste). If you don’t love what you are eating, leave it and rather eat something you love! I like to eat my favourite foods first and if there is space left, I will eat the other foods. For those of you who have dieted, you will know that we normally save the best for last, but by then we are over full.

Plan for food pushers

Those pesky food pushers try to please us by force feeding us and we try to please them by eating till we are stuffed! This is a lose-lose situation. The best approach with food pushers is to Delay, Distract , Decide and Determine…

  • Delay the eating;
  • Distract the pusher;
  • Decide if you will eat or not;
  • Determine what and how much, if you choose to eat.

You can read more about ways to deal with food pushers here.

Accept and Let Go

It is a season of unrealistic expectations on many levels. Accept that you will be triggered and that you will experience some negative emotions. You can choose to eat emotionally but try do it mindfully. It is a difficult time to eat mindfully ALL of the time. Accept that there will be meals where you overeat. There will be meals where you will overdo the sugar or refined foods. There will be occasions where you have a few drinks too many. It’s OK.

All or Nothing Thinking

Try and avoid all or nothing thinking, chances are this will lead to more overeating. Be aware of the switch that trips if you have overeaten at a meal, don’t think “oh well I have blown it so I might as well carry on overeating”. We are not perfect eaters.  No need to catastrophise! Take it meal by meal and bite by bite.

Be kind, patient and compassionate

When you overeat or overdo your fun foods, whatever you do DO NOT beat yourself up or feel guilty, this will only fuel overeating…

Have fun, rest and relax

After all, this is what the holidays are about! If you need more tips and strategies for the holiday season, read my blogs – “How to Survive the Holidays” and “Joyful Eating in the Holidays“.

May I
May You
May We All
Be Well, Be Safe, Be Healthy and Happy This Season



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