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Mindful Eating
  • Eat Well, Live Well

A Mindful Approach to Holiday Eating

By Dylan Bailey, MS

 

The holiday season is the most joyful time of year, and for good reason. Seasonal foods and beverages are the centerpiece of festive gatherings where we can unwind and relax with those closest to us.

But holiday eating can be overwhelming and tough to manage, especially as it relates to food choices, eating patterns and weight. The abundance of foods normally considered “off limits” during the year could lead to overindulgence, while denying access to our favorite foods shows no health benefit either. Not to mention, with so much else going on we often pay less attention to our surroundings, are distracted with other tasks, and can self-judge for the foods we pick.

When cooking with Libby’s® Fruits and Vegetables, there’s no right or wrong way to eat during the holidays; we’re about bringing everyone around the table to enjoy the experience and flavors right in front of them with Mindful Eating.

Let’s explore what exactly mindful eating is and how we can practice it during the holidays.

What Is Mindful Eating?

The Center for Mindful Eating is an helpful resource that maps out our relationship to food. Their core principles include:

  • Choosing to eat foods that are both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body through the five senses to taste, savor and enjoy.
  • Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.
  • Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to help guide your decision of when to eat and when to stop.

Intuitive eating is often mentioned with mindful eating as they complement each other well. While mindful eating focuses on the awareness and intention to eat, intuitive eating focuses on diet mentality and hunger cues. Applying both practices during the holidays can help you improve your relationship with food and build more thoughtful eating habits.

 How Do I Eat Mindfully During the Holidays?

  1. Rethink the Holidays
    • When you see the abundance of holiday food or interpret seasonal items as “special” or an “exception,” it could cause us to eat differently. Rather than making these foods off-limits, as it could drive urges to eat uncontrollably once available, enjoy them when you actually want them. Eat them slowly and with 100% awareness to increase your satisfaction and experience.
  2. Give Yourself Unconditional Permission to Eat
    • If you head into the holidays with preconceived rules or judgments around what you eat, including labeling foods as good or bad, it’s difficult to tap into hunger and satiety cues that tell us when to start and stop eating. Additionally, having meals throughout the day versus “saving up,” helps manage your hunger so you can fully enjoy the food and the quantities you want. After all, there are so many wonderful foods to enjoy this time of year you’ll want to be aware of your food satisfaction. Experts note satisfaction is a better indicator than fullness for deciding when your body is ready to stop eating.
  3. Textures and Flavors Are Important
    • Mindful eating requires all your senses. As you eat your holiday meal, try to name all of the flavors you are experiencing. Pay attention to the appearance, smells, textures, and sounds of your food, and talk about it your friends at the table, to fully immerse yourself in the meal.
  4. Holidays Are for More Than Just Food
    • Our body drives what and how much to eat, including food cravings and urges which are a normal part of human biology. Once we recognize this, it allows us to focus on parts of the holiday season that are not food related, like being with family and friends.

With all of these tips, it’s important to remember mindful eating takes time, patience, and persistence to master. Becoming a mindful eater in the span of the holiday season is not the goal, but it can be the start of better long-term eating habits. See here for more reading on holiday eating and taking the next step with mindful eating.

Let’s check out a few recipes using Libby’s® Fruits and Vegetables that are delicious, nourishing and perfect for the holiday season. Better yet, enjoy them all year round in the spirit of mindful eating.

Whipped Feta and Corn Crostini

Whipped Feta and Corn Crostini

Cheesy Mushroom and Pea Orzo

Cheesy Mushroom and Pea Orzo

Pear Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

Pear Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream

 

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Cheesy Mushroom Pea Orzo
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