When we think about the holidays, many of us think of our favorite traditions. Although many of these festive activities revolve around food, we can choose to practice mindful eating to improve our quality of life and manage conditions like Type 2 diabetes. Let’s talk about what it means to eat mindfully and consider how to do so this holiday season.
Mindfulness is about maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment. Eating mindfully includes:
- Engaging all five senses
- Slowing down when eating
- Remembering your purpose
- Practicing appreciation and gratitude
Here are a few ways you can eat mindfully this holiday season!
1. Understand how emotions can affect your eating habits
It’s a good idea to be mindful of how feelings and food connect. The holidays can be an emotional time for many of us, and we may eat to address those feelings. Emotional eating happens when we turn to food to cope with feelings of anger, loneliness, sadness, stress or other emotion. Dealing with emotional eating starts with identifying the root of your feelings and creating a plan to cope with them.
2. Remember the 80% rule
The Blue Zones Project provides tips and principles for healthy living with a focus on longevity. One of their Power 9® principles is the 80% rule which reminds us to stop eating when we’re 80% full. The 20% gap between not being hungry and being full could make a big difference if you’re trying to lose weight or being more mindful of what you’re consuming. Eating slowly and savoring each bite (both part of mindful eating) are important to implementing the 80% rule in your life.
3. Make healthy choices easier
It’s often easier to avoid unhealthy foods when you have other options. At your next gathering, try to find or bring healthy snacks to keep you full. The American Heart Association recommends stocking up on heart-healthy snacks like:
- Carrot and celery sticks
- Bell pepper slices
- Plain low-fat or fat-free yogurt
- Whole-grain toast with peanut butter
- Canned fruit
Try to put together a variety of snacks for whatever you’re craving— sweet or savory, soft or crunchy.
4. Consume alcohol in moderation
Whether it’s enjoying a glass of wine with Christmas dinner or toasting to a New Year, you may want to make time to enjoy an alcoholic beverage during the holiday season. Drinking alcohol in moderation is important to staying healthy! Remember to limit your drinking to 1-2 glasses per day, and if possible, enjoy your beverage of choice with friends and food. These tips will help you stay safe while enjoying your favorite holiday drinks.
As always, you should check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet. They can help you make a plan to eat in a healthy, mindful way all year. Aspire Health Plan members also have no-cost access to an Enhanced Care Team that enables members to engage at their convenience in a meaningful education program. If you would like to talk with someone at Aspire Health about health coaching or finding additional resources to cope with problems like emotional eating, please call Population Health at (831) 644-7490.