How Mindful Eating for Christmas can help your health goals
1. Give yourself permission to eat ALL foods.
Focus on health, not weight loss.
2. Maintain regular eating patterns.
Don’t skip breakfast if you are eating out later that day, or had a big dinner the night before. Eating regularly helps maintain healthy metabolism.
3. Drink water and eat slowly.
Drink a glass of water before and during your meal will keep you hydrated and less inclined to drink alcohol and soft drinks. Eat slowly and savour your food. Slow down by sitting to eat (if possible), putting your fork down between bites, chewing several times & talking to your companions.
4. Adopt a healthy mindset
One that contains kindness, compassion, resilience, courage, pressing the pause button and keeping the end goal in mind.
5. Plan ahead.
You probably have a good idea of where you’re going and what foods and drinks will be on offer. So think about what you are looking forward to eating there and what concerns you have about what’s on offer.
6. Prepare a plan of action for obstacles you think you’ll encounter.
For example, (a) Overwhelming Choices – “I can try a little of everything” or “I’ll try a small amount of 1-3 desserts ” or (b) Responses to people who say “Have some more” – “Thank you, I’m tempted but I’ve had enough for now”.
7. Make an intentional choice from a place of abundance and not deprivation.
Remind yourself that you can always choose to eat a certain food. You don’t have to deprive yourself. If you choose to eat it then embrace your decision and savour the food. If you choose not to eat that food, remember you can still eat it at another time of your choice.
8. If there’s a buffet, survey it first.
Acknowledge the foods you want to eat and then have a little of all of them or choose 5 that you may want and keep room for dessert. Again give yourself permission to choose a small portion size of 1-3 desserts or a little of all of them. Sometimes it’s just the anticipation of eating the food and really all we need to feel satisfied is to just have a taste.
9. If it’s a sit-down menu choose 3 options you want to eat and then choose the healthiest of the three.
Don’t be afraid to make modifications. For e.g. the burger without cheese or mayonnaise. The pecan pie without cream on the side. This way you are basing your decision on what you want and what’s healthy.
10. Recognise the ways you sabotage yourself.
Prepare for and challenge unhelpful thoughts and behaviours by using coping self-statements. For example, instead of “It’s too hard. I can’t do it” say “I realise I’m overeating“. “Am I really hungry or am I bored, sad, angry or feeling guilty. I can still stop overeating now”. Instead of “I’ve blown it now I may as well eat more”, respond with “Just made less desirable choices doesn’t mean I have to give up. I can continue working towards my goals even if I slip up”.
11. Maintain other healthy habits like exercising, sleeping, and social connections.
Exercising for 10 minutes in the morning is a good way to fit it in before the distractions occur. Sleep well. We tend to eat more when we are tired because we are looking for energy. Lack of sleep also makes us lose concentration and become moody. Connecting with others and eating with them is socially and emotionally rewarding. Stay focused on your conversations and not your concerns about eating.
12. Give yourself the Gifts of Christmas. Hope & Forgiveness
Never give up on yourself. Get back up and keep going. We all make mistakes. We are all works of art in progress. Be Kind to yourself. Peace & Joy– Begin when we accept where we are and have the courage to continue step by step towards our goals while still rejoicing in the fun times, enjoying food and embracing the blessings in life. Love & Kindness – Be your own best friend to yourself and others. Surround yourself with your cheerleading team. We all need a little support and encouragement from people who are positive and mindful of our goals. We, in turn, can reciprocate and enhance others’ lives.