MINDFUL EATING FOR THE FESTIVE SEASON
by Ellen Kocher
Who wants to stick to a diet or watch your weight over Christmas and New Year? Certified Mindful Eating Coach, Ellen Kocher, suggests instead that we re-wire our brains to MINDFULLY manage holiday parties …and enjoy them more!
Christmas parties are a perfect excuse to celebrate and have fun! Incredibly and wonderfully rich food and drink tend to be a big focus which is great, but can feel overwhelming if you’ve invested some serious effort into staying slim and healthy this year. Rather than the same old healthy holiday party tips, how about eating and drinking more mindfully?
WHAT IS MINDFUL EATING?
Mindful Eating can be defined as eating intention and attention and comprises not so much the what we eat but when, why, how and how much we eat.
Ask yourself these 7 questions to re-wire your brain and ditch the old holiday habits to mindfully manage holiday food. You may not even need New Year’s Resolutions this year!
Plan ahead to enjoy your favourite seasonal treats. Allowing yourself to have small amounts of what you consider “forbidden” foods has been shown to prevent high calorie bingeing while keeping you joyful throughout the festive season! So, go on – have that mini mince pie with your tea!
Did I say my ABC’s?
Assess – Breathe – Choose. This mindfulness exercise can be useful to help you decide whether that holiday treat is really worth it. Before you just stuff something onto your plate or into your mouth, consider quality and if you do not LOVE it, empower yourself to discretely pass on it! You know there will be more all month, and you’re worth it!
Taking the the time to smell, taste, savour and appreciate food allows you to better recognize when you’ve had enough and if you truly love it. A holiday biscuit or chocolate may be just conjuring up memories. Take a small bite, take a second look, is it as exceptional as you thought? If not, choose something else!
Where am I right now?
Mindfulness is about being in the present moment fully aware. Mindfully move away from the food once you are served. Don’t hang out right next to the buffet table. Step away! Simply seeing or smelling food stimulates unplanned consumption by an average of 25% and we also eat almost twice as fast!
Attention and listening are key mindfulness practices. Try to focus on people and conversation and not only on food and drink. Eating is not compulsory to enjoyment and well-being, but relationships are!
What did I do for me today?
Self-care doesn’t have to involve food. Plan to indulge in other activities you enjoy throughout the month like shopping, walking outside, yoga, connecting with friends or real down-time. This will lower your stress levels (women have a 44% increase in stress levels during the holidays) and leave you grounded to manage everything better!
How did I do?
After the party, check in with yourself. How do you feel? Satisfied? Guilty? Great? Regretful?
Mindfulness practice is about curious observation without judgement. Use your feelings as a learning experience for NEXT TIME. Remember, Mindful Eating is not about “being good”… it’s about “feeling good!”
Ellen Kocher is a bi-lingual Certified Health Coach based in Geneva who promotes a non-diet, weight-neutral, mindfulness-based approach to eating, physical activity, holistic health and self-care. Ellen helps her clients go from knowing what to do to actually doing it!