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Nutrition Notes

Healthy and mindful eating this holiday season

Karen LentnerKaren LentnerThe holidays are upon us and, for many, this means eating, perhaps a lot of eating. This may be followed by weight gain, and then a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. It’s time to take a healthier approach to eating during this holiday season!

Do you ever find yourself consuming food just because it’s there? Are you eating because you are hungry or bored? Do you ever eat while watching television, looking at your cell phone, or working on your computer? This distracted, mindless eating can lead to difficulty controlling your blood sugars, overeating, and weight gain.

According to Harvard Medical School, “mindfulness refers to the practice of being aware and in the moment and can help you fully enjoy a meal and the experience of eating – with moderation and restraint.” There are studies suggesting mindful eating may help you improve your eating habits because you are paying more attention to what you eat and making small changes that can make a big difference.

It’s best to plan before you eat, and only eat when you’re hungry.

Try not to eat because the food is available or you are stressed or bored. Don’t skip a meal, especially before a holiday gathering as this may cause you to overeat, and consider having a high fiber snack such as raw vegetables, a handful of nuts, or fresh fruit. Fiber helps you feel full longer. Check out all the food options when you arrive at a party and make a plan that allows you to sample foods you enjoy, without abandoning good habits. Start by filling your plate with vegetables and salad before selecting entrees and desserts. Focus on fresh, unprocessed foods without extra salt, sugar, and fat. It’s okay to have holiday treats, but make sure the food is worth the extra calories and consider smaller portions. Avoid eating food straight from the bag or box, portioning out how much you will have. Try eating from a smaller plate to help limit the amount you eat. Moderation is the key. If you have your eye on a high calorie dessert, consider splitting it with a friend, a great way to share the dessert and cut the calories in half.

Eat slowly and take time to enjoy the taste of your meal without distractions.

Between bites, put your fork down while chewing, enjoy the textures, aroma, and flavors. Be mindful of what and how much you have eaten. This will give your body time to signal your brain that you are satisfied and not necessarily full. Leave the table when you are done, offer to help with the dishes, or take a walk. Mindful eating will help you appreciate and enjoy the food you eat.

Happy holidays!

Consider joining us for a meal at one of our dining centers or contact us to set up Meals on Wheels.