Mindful Holiday Eating

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Overeating and weight gain can be a big problem during the holiday’s.  The average weight gain for an adult from Thanksgiving to Christmas is one pound, however, that number increases to 5 pounds for an adult who is already overweight.  Mindful eating is one strategy to help prevent that holiday weight gain.  Add some of these mindful eating rules to your toolbelt to keep holiday pounds from sneaking up on you.

1.) The 1/3 rd rule:

During your parties and holiday meals make sure your plate stays within the 1/3rd rule.  1/3rd of your plate is protein, 1/3rd is vegetables, and 1/3rd can be a carbohydrate.  This helps you maintain some good vegetable intake to keep you full, ensures protein intake and minimizes carbs.  Doing this also helps to prevent you from feeling deprived.  If you tell yourself that you won’t have any of your favorite holiday stuffing then you start feeling negative about your food.  That type of eating is not very sustainable as well.  The more deprived you feel the more likely you are to quit eating healthy all together.  This tactic at least allows you to eat the foods you like but in a controlled manner.

2) Give leftovers to homeless shelters or churches.

This is a great way for you to enjoy your one special meal and not overindulge for the next 7 days.  This is also a great family activity that everyone can do the next day to celebrate and be even more thankful.

Call your local food bank to see if they can take extra cans of food.  A number of local homeless shelters will accept meal donations.

3.) Bring the healthy food to the party!

It’s pretty common to show up at a party and the only things to eat are chips, queso and pretzels.  Not exactly the healthiest and most filling snacks available.  That is why I bring vegetables and hummus to every party that I go to.  The great thing about bringing food to the party that you can eat is that you at least have the healthier option.  Even if you do partake in some of the chips and dip at least it doesn’t have to be 100% of your intake.  Below I have listed some snack plates I like to bring to a party:

  • vegetable tray with hummus or low calorie Greek yogurt dip
  • Assorted meat tray with multigrain crackers
  • Deviled eggs
  • Fruit tray
  • Side salad
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4.)  Serve yourself on smaller plates.

If you are at a holiday party or special event you can always serve yourself on a smaller plate to help with portion sizes. This technique can be helpful as long as you stick to only having one plate of food.

5.)  Control what meals you can.

During this time of holiday parties and gatherings just remember to have tight control over the meals that you make.  If there are a number dinner parties planned then make sure you eat calorie controlled breakfasts and lunches.  This is still a good time to meal prep so that you don’t rely on eating out all the time.

6.) You don’t have to clean your plate!

No better time than the holidays to start acting on this concept! Not eating everything served to you is a great way to help control portion sizes. This can be done at restaurants by cutting your portion in half and taking that home for another meal.  You have to start listening to your body and the ques it gives you throughout the day.  If we ranked hunger and satiety on a scale of 1-10 (1 being so hungry you will eat the next thing put in front of you and 10 being very uncomfortably full) you want to keep your body between a 4 and 8 at all times. You never want to be so hungry that you lose control and eat 3,000 calories in a sitting because your body is craving carbs and sugar. You also never want to be so full that you are now stressing your body out with too much food to digest.  Eating a well balanced meal or snack every few hours helps prevent overeating.

7.) Triage your food.

A great mindfulness exercise is to start thinking about what foods you actually enjoy eating vs. foods that you are just eating because they are there.  For example after putting conscious thought into how I felt about the food I was eating, I realized I don’t like potatoes.  I realized that every time I ate a potato I actually didn’t like the taste or texture.  It was a huge wake up call to my palate and diet!  And from then on I knew that I did not want to waste calories eating mashed or baked potatoes anymore.

8.) Cut down on alcohol.

Booze can be a waistline destroyer during the holidays.  Holidays = parties and parties = alcohol.  My recommendation is to alternate an alcohol beverage with water or a zero calorie beverage like sparkling water with lime.  This can help cut down on empty alcoholic calories and re-hydrate you as well.  Just remember that calories from alcohol can add up without much thought.

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What’s your favorite holiday trick?  Share with us!