- At Thanksgiving, I fill up on starchy carbs until I am about to burst, and then add a slice of pecan pie, with whipped cream, to top off my already full stomach.
- At all the holiday parties during the month of December, I drink (well not this year) more wine that I normally would, and indulge in all those special holiday cookies and sweets.
- Of course, there is my mom’s Christmas baking tradition—sugar cookies in the shape of Christmas items topped with frosting, Mexican Wedding Cakes, and Peanut Brittle.
- When Christmas finally comes, Christmas Eve starts with cheese fondue, and followed by meat and veggie fondue. Christmas morning is candy in our stockings and homemade Eggs Benedict with lots of Hollandaise sauce.
It is all so delicious, but always leaves me feeling a little guilty and shameful by the time New Year’s rolls around. Does something similar happen to you too?
Mindful eating is difficult, but if we pay a little bit more attention and change a few small things, we can escape some of the guilt associated with holiday overindulgence. These are some suggestions to try. See what works for you.
At holiday parties:
- Hang out in the “food free” space at the party, so you aren’t tempted to eat just because it is there and looks so good. Visual cues and proximity increase our changes of indulging.
- After every alcoholic drink, have a glass of water. By trading off, you will find yourself feeling fuller, and less likely to drink as many alcoholic drinks.
- Use a tall, slender glass when pouring your drinks. Due to visual illusions, we tend to pour (and drink) 25-30 percent more from a short wide glass, then you do a tall, narrow one.
- If you are talking to someone, put your plate of food down. When engaged in conversation, we tend to eat mindlessly, not even tasting the food, nor knowing how much we are actually eating.
- Put only a couple items on your plate at a time, and walk away from the table. We love variety, but it can cause us to eat more than we really want or need. By limiting your choices, you can limit your intake.
- Arrive late and/or leave early. The longer you are at the party, and surrounded by temptation, the more likely you are to indulge.
At holiday dinners:
- Eat the healthy portion of the meal first. When we are famished, we are more likely to chose and eat unhealthy foods. Fill up on the good stuff first, and then check-in with your body before you fill up your plate with everything else.
- Choose a smaller plate. The larger the plate, the more food we can fit on it, and the more we will eat. By choosing a salad plate instead of a dinner plate, we can avoid eating so much. We will have to pause and think twice about going back for seconds.
- Arrange to have the buffet in the kitchen, rather than all the bowls on the table. This goes back to the idea of proximity. If it is right in front of us, we are more likely to go for seconds without much thought, but if we have to get up and go into the kitchen to fill up again, we might have second thoughts.
- Turn down the lights and put on slow music. Creating a comfortable atmosphere, with slow music and dim lights will help us to eat more slowly. It takes 20 minutes for our brain to recognize it is full, so use your environment to help make this happen.
- Put your fork down…after every bite if you can. I know how hard it is when you haven’t had your mom’s stuffing in a whole year, but it isn’t going to jump off your your plate and run away, so take it slow and enjoy your food.
In the kitchen:
- Cut that cookie recipe in half, or quarters. I know baking is a great part of the holiday tradition, but the fun is in the baking, right? You can still get the same joy, even if you don’t bake quite as much.
- Freeze it! Once you bake those cookies, or breads, or whatever, freeze some of it. If it is out of sight, you are less likely to indulge as often.
- Keep it out of sight. If you keep your cookies in the cookie jar on the kitchen counter, the sight and proximity will lead you right to it. Instead keep your fruit bowl with its luscious oranges, apples, and pears in sight, and stash your cookies in the cupboard or pantry.
In no way am I suggesting that you try to avoid all those tempting foods over the holidays. Depriving yourself only leads you to want it more, and then when you do have it you feel guilty. Indulge, just do so in moderation, and balance it out with the healthy stuff too!!
Happy Holidays and Happy Eating!