The holiday season has arrived, and chances are, you have a few festive celebrations on the horizon. Whether it’s a party with co-workers, a dinner with friends or an eventful family gathering, the holidays are a wonderful time to relax and spend time with the people you care about most.
Many of us are also looking forward to this time of year as a chance to enjoy an array of seasonal foods and beverages. At the same time, it’s common to feel overwhelmed by all the rich foods and sweet treats we can seem to find at every turn.
One way to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed by the options at holiday gatherings is by paying attention to your internal hunger cues and the sensory aspects of the different foods you eat. Below are some mindful eating tips to make your eating experiences more enjoyable and nourishing this holiday season.
- Rate your hunger: Before you start eating, take a moment to gauge your hunger level using our “Eat-Mojis” hunger scale. You might try reassessing your hunger level about halfway through the meal. If you rank yourself below a “6,” then begin eating slowly until you find yourself satisfied. If you score yourself at “6” or above, it might be a good idea to stop eating and pack up the rest as leftovers or take-home treats.
- Pause and consider: Holidays are a chance to slow your life down for a moment, and your dinner courses can be treated the same way. When deciding what to eat, pause to consider these two questions: “What sounds good?” and “How do I want to feel after this meal?” The goal is to build a plate that sounds appetizing while also considering how your food choices might impact your digestion or energy levels. No idea where to start? Try including multiple food groups—fiber and protein are thought to aid in achieving satiety.
- Name that texture: While you are eating, take a moment to think about how you would describe the texture of that particular food. Some words that come to mind could be creamy, gooey, crunchy, crispy or flaky. Maybe even start a conversation with other guests by asking them what terms they would personally use to label the texture. Are they the same, or do they differ? You may find that you experience foods differently than others.
- Savor the flavor: When practicing mindful eating, appreciate the flavor of various foods. Try not to rush when chewing to let the flavors and aromas fill your senses. See if you can compare the flavors of the foods on your plate. Are some foods saltier or more umami than others? What about sweeter? Thinking about the flavor will help you better appreciate the experience of eating. Use this checklist to help guide your experience.
There is no doubt that the fall and winter holidays involve a lot of delicious foods. Hopefully these mindful eating tips will make the abundance of food choices a little easier to navigate.
This post includes contributions by Alison Webster, former dietetic intern, and Alyssa Pike, RD.