1. It’s easy to be overwhelmed when you set your eyes upon a prepared feast. Take a deep breath and ask yourself how much food you’ll need to feel satisfied. Your surroundings, mood, stress and hunger levels will influence your answer. Be mindful.
2. Restricting one’s self takes a lot of willpower and brainpower, which can pull focus away from enjoying a meal together and spending time with loved ones. Take time for conversation, slow down, relax, savor your food, and listen to your body’s response.
3. The holidays are marketed as ‘special’ and ‘limited time only’, which makes it so we often believe this is our only chance to eat certain foods. This causes thoughts of scarcity and deprivation, which can easily lead to over-indulging, just to ‘get it while it lasts’! Remember, you can have these special foods again – ask for the recipe, go back for a second helping, have leftovers. This helps with staying mindful while enjoying our food and the holiday celebration.
4. Identify a few things that really make the holidays for you. For some it’s visiting the zoo lights and hot chocolate, reading by the fire, or time with friends over a pastry and coffee. For us, the holidays come alive while baking cookies with family. Since this isn’t something we do during the rest of the year, it’s nostalgic and has a wonderful feeling of holiday celebration. Find the special treats that are an integral part of your holiday celebrations and take the time to mindfully savor them.
5. Hosting for the holidays? It’s easy to forget to eat while cleaning the house, bathing the dog, and running errands; however, skipping meals during the day can lead to intensified food cravings and overeating at night. Remember to check in with your body often to assess hunger level and have healthy snacks or meals on hand.
6. By consuming “volumizing” foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean meat, poutry and fish, you can satisfy your hunger and with fewer calories.
7. Nourishment goes beyond food and includes how we care for ourselves. During the holiday season, it is essential to make time for enjoyable activities that are meaningful to you and to connect with supportive people.
8. To stay mindful and truly enjoy your foods, be aware of the impact of alcohol; it can lower inhibitions and lead to eating more food than intended.
9. Remember to enjoy the holi-DAY. As you approach the holiday meal, remember that this is only one day. Even if you fall off the wagon, you don’t have to wait until Monday, or even the new year, to ‘get back on track’ – start with your regular eating and exercise routine the next day.
10. Just because you eat stuffed turkey doesn’t mean you have to feel like one. Check in with your hunger level on a scale of 1-10 before grabbing a plate and piling on the food. This tiny bit of mindfulness will help prevent the post-meal bloat and discomfort.
11. A holiday is a celebration! Enjoy both the food and the joyous social interactions, which is food for the soul.
12. Practice self-compassion and appreciation. Enjoy the experience of the holiday; be flexible and forgiving of any mis-steps. Remember, no one intuitively all of the time!