I spend a lot of time with my clients this time of year talking about holiday eating. For many, all of the sugar and spice and everything…well, it’s not so nice. After working hard to eat healthfully or manage a disease state, my clients aren’t sure how to navigate all of the office goodies, holiday parties, neighbor’s cookies and seasonal delights. It’s often tempting to think that buckling down the hatches and really “dieting” during this time of year is the answer, but it is not! It will leave you crabbier than the Grinch and will increase the chances of over indulging at some point. Here are a few of my top tips for Mindful Holiday Eating, which can help to make the holidays quite manageable and enjoyable.
1- Keep Your Focus on Good Day-to-Day Nutrition. Have you been enjoying nutritious breakfasts and packing your lunch for work? Having healthy snacks throughout the day and prepping easy dinners? Excellent! Keep up the good work! If this hasn’t been your practice, now is a great time to start a few healthy routines. Good daily nutrition is more important than what you eat a holiday party, and keeping yourself well-nourished will help to tame holiday cravings.
2- S-L-O-W Down. No doubt this time of year is extremely busy, but taking time away from distractions to enjoy your meals is a wonderful mindful eating technique. See what happens if you put away your cell phone, shut down your computer, turn off the t.v. and really connect with the food in front of you. Notice the colors, the textures, the scents and the tastes of your meal. Allow yourself to experience all of the sensations of eating by fully connecting without distractions. Even if you can only do this at one meal per day, you may find you are more satisfied.
3- Be the Boss. It’s easy to feel pressured to try Aunt Bessie’s fruitcake or the beautifully decorated gingerbread man that your co-worker gifts you. If those are not appealing or you aren’t hungry for them, remember that there is no obligation to eat them.
4- Pick Your Favorites. Most of us have a few things that really make the holidays the holidays. For me, it is most definitely a cup of eggnog once our Christmas tree decorations are complete. This isn’t a food I’d enjoy on a Tuesday in June, but it is so nostalgic and wonderfully Christmas-y to me. Find the special treats that are the most meaningful to your holiday celebrations and truly enjoy them.
5- Keep on Moving. With hectic schedules at this time of year, it’s very easy to think you don’t’ have time for meaningful movement or exercise. Make time for this important piece of self-care even when you are busy. If you do, you may find a more natural inclination to stick to health goals and nourish yourself well. And remember, you can rack up a lot of steps in shopping malls!
6- Take it Easy on Yourself. This holiday schedule won’t last forever, and before you know it, we’ll be craving salads and starting fresh in the New Year. Remember it is temporary and try to stay in the moments and enjoy them. It may help to leave you with this little family rhyme: “The Holidays come but once a year, and we’re very glad they’re here. Why are we very glad they’re here? Because they come but once a year!”
Angie Dye, MS, RDN, CSSD is a Private Practice Dietitian who specializes in Intuitive Eating, Sports Nutrition and Gastrointestinal Nutrition in Hershey, PA.
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Angie Dye is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). She is also a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor.
Angie holds a Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Prior to starting her private practice, Angie worked as a Clinical Dietitian at the University of Chicago Hospitals. She also served as adjunct faculty at Loyola University in Chicago.
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