For many, Thanksgiving brings a sense of joy, family time, and gratitude. For others, it may be a day of relaxation and holiday entertainment.
No matter how its spent, Thanksgiving always includes plenty of food and drinks! Whether its turkey, ham, or chicken, thanksgiving is a time to celebrate culinary traditions.
For some however, the worry of extra calories and weight gain, can make the holidays less of an enjoyable time. Others may throw their diets or healthy eating habits out the door, in an effort to indulge in the holiday treats.
In either scenario, it doesn’t have to be the case.
Holidays should be a time to relax and enjoy the moments, as well as the food. You can still enjoy your favorite dishes by eating mindfully.
This means focusing intently on the physical and emotional awareness toward food and the meal experience. Mindful eating is not a diet but rather a behavior change.
It’s not about the weight, calories, fat, or cholesterol, but rather purposeful intentions to appreciate food and bring full awareness to our senses during mealtime.
Eating mindfully has a number of benefits including but not limited to: improved digestion, increased awareness toward fullness, and positive mental wellbeing.
Weight loss, although not the goal, may also be a benefit for some. Moreover, it increases gratitude for the meal, therefore making the relationship with food, a pleasant, judgement-free experience.
The best part (drum roll please!) – eating mindfully is not specific to the holiday season! In fact, you can do this throughout the entire year. So, its time to enjoy the holidays, the fun, and food without the guilt.
1. Have a balanced breakfast
Have you ever shopped for food on an empty stomach? Shopping while your hungry increases your chances of purchasing a lot more food that you intended and you’re more likely to purchase foods that you were craving in the moment.
The same instances can be applied to your pre-thanksgiving day meals and snacks! Skipping meals makes us hungrier and increases our urge to overeat.
Eating breakfast prior to your thanksgiving meal will not only curb your hunger, but you are more likely to make a healthy decision when its time to plate your meal.
If you’ll be eating your thanksgiving meal earlier in the day, consider a light fare such as oatmeal with fresh fruit or hard boiled eggs with whole grain toast and a slice of avocado.
If dinner will be later in the day, consider a tasty, fiber rich snack after your breakfast, such as a fruit parfait with granola, to keep you fueled and full longer.
2. Savor your experience
Eating mindfully requires full attention to your meal but that may be difficult when you’re trying to catch up with friends and family.
Take short pauses to check-in with yourself and savor the moment.
Enjoy the aroma of the food, express gratitude for the meal, or give a loved one a hug.
3. Savor your meal
Savor your meal by chewing thoroughly and taking time to enjoy the presentation, taste, and texture.
In addition, chewing slowly helps reduce overeating by giving your brain a chance to receive signals from your stomach, that it is full.
4. Listen to your body
Check-in with yourself to assess your level of hunger. Eat until satisfied in the moment but not until your full. This will help you digest and enjoy the taste of your food better.
After enjoying your delicious meal, consider a light stroll with family.
Not only is it fun and a mood-booster but research has shown that a light walk of at least 60 to 90 minutes following a meal can help improve blood sugars. Walks after a meal may also improve digestion and bloating.
Ready to start cooking? Here are a few of our favorite healthy holiday recipes:
Interested in learning more about eating a balanced diet? Our Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables program provides free, exciting workshops on a host of nutrition and wellness topics. Email our nutritionist, Alyssa Advincula for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
For other nutrition questions or inquires, e-mail our nutrition resource manager, Monique Marshall at: email@example.com.