Mindful Eating at the Holidays
I used to get really stressed about meal planning for the holidays. Was there a magical food that would keep me out of the cookie jar? What would fill me up with the fewest number of calories possible so that the extra eggnog didn’t show up on my butt later that week? How was I supposed to plan for meals when life was moving so darn fast?
That was life B.M.E. (Before Mindful Eating).
My relationship with food is very different these days, I no longer feel the need to justify every calorie, match my weekly fitness with what I estimate to be my calorie intakes, and I feel so much more in control than when I was measuring, counting, and recording every crumb.
A lot of new clients are worried about gaining weight without the rules- what will keep you from going crazy with the cookie dough ice cream if there are no rules? How will you ever know when you are supposed to eat lunch? How are you ever going to plan another meal if you are listening to your body instead of scheduling your day away?
I can assure you, that with time, guidance, and trust in yourself you’ll be liberated from diet culture, food rules, and yo-yo dieting. It’s incredibly freeing to eat a Christmas cookie without guilt, or to walk away from the table with food still left on your plate.
The benefits of mindful eating and food freedom:
Have you ever found yourself going down a Google rabbit hole in search of the perfect diet plan that is going to fix all of your problems? “If I could only stop ________, then I would __________ !!!”
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, there is no perfect diet- and that’s a good thing! How boring would it be to eat the exact same things as everyone else every single day? It sounds like it might simplify your life, but the reality is that you would be bored silly in a week.
While there isn’t a perfect diet, there is a perfect strategy for you. One that is unique to you, your food identity, and your goals. The way to find out what that strategy entails is through mindfulness and mindful eating. In a recent workshop I explain that to get started all you need are three steps. You begin with building awareness, make intentional choices, and then let go. You’re simply learning to pick up on your body’s cues then act accordingly.
Once you can hear what your body is telling you, you’ll be able to make informed choices about food and fitness- do that consistently enough and you’ll find that you are able to eat whatever you like and you don’t miss the foods that no longer serve you.
While you won’t magically get the answers to planning meals during this time of temptation and overindulgence you will be more prepared for making decisions that will help you stay on track to reach your goals. Instead of loading up on sugar and alcohol, you’ll realize that you feel better when you eat healthy- making it a no-brainer decision.
Grab this free holiday inspired meal plan.
An example of mindful eating at work would be Jenn’s experience.
Jenn was struggling to lose weight; she tried all the diets and nothing worked.
She began working with me on mindful eating and mindfulness and soon came to realize that she felt physically ill when she ate pasta. After a while she discovered that she was exhausted when she ate a sandwich for lunch. Fast forward a few months and between her increased awareness and some targeted testing Jenn learned that she had developed gluten intolerance as a result of her Hashimoto’s disease. Once she cut out excess gluten the weight started coming off.
Not every experience is so black and white, but you get the idea. The benefits of mindful eating can range from finally losing weight, managing cholesterol levels, or starting to love yourself and your body for all the things that you can do!
Here are some results I have seen over the years working with clients:
Improving athletic performance
Reduction of perimenopause/menopause symptoms
Reduced PCOS, PMDD symptoms
Improved blood pressure
Reduction of diabetes medications
The list literally goes on and on.
Aside from the improved health, mindful eating gives you the freedom to eat whatever foods you like. Don’t misunderstand, it’s not an open invitation to eat bags of cookies for 3 meals a day, it is however attaching your experience eating certain foods to how your body feels, how you feel eating them. You might learn that you don’t even like the taste of a certain food, you just eat it out of habit.
Mindful eating and stress eating:
The reason that you are stress eating is because you have too many demands on your time, you are paralyzed by decisions, or you just don’t have the energy, and eating gives you some comfort. Eating becomes an escape and you are able to ignore the little voice telling you that this isn’t a good idea. The more you eat, the less it helps, then you are stuck in the cycle of restrict, binge, and remorse.
The first time that you are able to pause for even a moment and ask yourself if this is a good idea you have created a new habit. When you pause enough times eventually you are able to make a different decision, and then you’ll make the healthy choices more often than not. Simply by being aware, being mindful, and pausing for a moment.
The first step in putting an end to holiday weight gain and stress eating is building awareness.
You can learn how to get started with the free guide: QuickStart Mindful Eating.
5 Strategies to Stop Stress Eating:
Using the concepts of mindfulness, you can stop holiday stress eating. Try one or all of these tips and notice how much better you feel:
Ask yourself: “Do I need this or do I want this?”
Take 5 breaths before eating to take a break and check in
Have a “no bag/box/container” rule. Eat whatever you like, but it must be on a plate
Redirect your attention by going for a walk, getting on your yoga mat, or journal writing
Sit at the table to eat. Remove distractions so you can savor your food.
Want to learn more about mindfulness, mindful eating, and healthy living? Download the free Quick Start Guide and subscribe to the email list for weekly emails, recipes, and updates.