Over the Christmas holidays, we tend to be bombarded with an overabundance of every sweet and salty treat that we can imagine. Christmas, of all times, should never be a time for deprivation but we also don’t want to overdo it too often because that can leave us feel mentally and physically unwell, and that’s not a fun way to get through the holidays!
Empowered eating can help. It’s the ultimate when it comes to getting the healthy foods we love while making room for Christmas treats. Because who doesn't love Christmas treats!
Often, this time of year, we end up consuming food just because it’s there. It’s eating while distracted – watching TV, working at a computer or texting on our smartphones. It’s eating for emotional comfort instead of for hunger. Basically, it’s not paying attention to what we eat and why we eat.
When we pay attention to what we’re doing and why – we’re breaking the ‘highway hypnosis’ of eating, which can slow us down, allow us to enjoy our food more, and still be incredibly satisfied. It's about brining in 'choice'. Knowing no food is off limits but simply checking in before to see how we want to eat after.
So how can we engage in more mindful eating this Christmas? Here are my 5 top tips.
1. Practice awareness: Before you eat anything I encourage you to practice asking: Am I Hungry?” this gives us time to stop and pause before mindlessly consuming that entire fruitcake. If you are hungry – ask yourself what it is that you need to feel physically AND mentally well and good and then proceed to tip #2. Sometimes, this will be fruitcake - sometimes - this will be fruit. Both are totally fine! And, if you’re not hungry – you still have the right to eat, you’re just making a conscious choice to do so.
2. Sit down to eat: No matter what, aim to always sit down to eat. This will help you to not only optimise digestion but allow us to truly appreciate the food we eat. We may eat less, we may not but at least we're enjoying it. Try remove any distractions, turn off the smartphone, the TV or whatever else might be taking your focus away and simply sit and enjoy your food. No matter what you’ve chosen, take the time to chew your food thoroughly and remember to practice saying thank-you for every delicious bite.
3. Have the best bite first: I know this is the opposite of what you’ve no doubt heard or done in the past but having the best bite first can help you manage the amounts you want. Hunger is the best seasoning and so when we take to enjoy the best bite first we’re allowing the ultimate flavour experience. Not only that but if the best part is already gone, we’re less likely to feel the need to finish the rest of our plate just to get to the good part.
4. Focus on fun not food: Christmas time is so much more than simply food. Why not make it about spending time with family, getting outside in the summer sun, getting movement or simply enjoying a much-needed rest. Often we turn to food for comfort or distraction, so if we can get more out of life and live the life we crave, food will lose its power.
5. Sooth the stress without food: Do you find yourself reaching for comfort foods in time of stress? Considering the amount of stress that Christmas can bring, this can be a no doubt difficult time for emotional eaters. The truth is though, if you’re not hungry, to begin with, no amount of food will satisfy. This holiday season, try to find some alternatives to sooth your daily stresses. Filling yourself up with some self-care, doing deep breathing or getting outside are all ways to sooth without food.
Sometimes, comforting with food is going to be the easiest option - and that's ok too but when it's our only coping mechanism that's not a fair deal for us. Let's add some more options to our toolkit!
The biggest thing though to remember is to practice compassion. If you over indulge in glorious Christmas treats and feel physically awful because of it, you haven’t fallen off a wagon or ruined anything you’ve simply enjoyed some tasty food. Life is about balance, learn from that experience and know that your health will not suffer.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all! And if you're looking for some inspiration for nourishing and delicious Christmas treats. Don't forget you can get my Sweet Christmas Ebook for FREE by clicking here.