Mindful Holiday Eating!

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The holiday season is right around the corner, and this time of year is filled with family, friends, and laughter and of course good food! This month I am sharing with you the principles of mindful eating and how this can help get you through the holiday season looking and feeling great while still enjoying your favorite cuisine. According to Susan Albers, “mindful eating is not a diet. It is being more aware of your eating habits, the sensations your experience when you eat, and the thoughts and emotions that you have about food. It is more about how you eat than what you eat.” This article will give you plenty of tips on mindful eating!

Principles of Mindfulness: (provided with permission from the Center for Mindful Eating)
• Mindfulness is deliberately paying attention, non-judgmentally.
• Mindfulness encompasses both internal processes and external environments.
• Mindfulness is being aware of what is present for you mentally, emotionally and physically in each moment.
• With practice, mindfulness cultivates the possibility of freeing yourself of reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting.
• Mindfulness promotes balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is.

Mindful Eating is:
• Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing
opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.
• Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor and taste.
• Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.
• Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.

Someone Who Eats Mindfully:
• Acknowledges that there is no right or wrong way to eat but varying degrees of awareness surrounding the experience of food.
• Accepts that his/her eating experiences are unique.
• Is an individual who by choice, directs his/her awareness to all aspects of food and eating on a moment-by-moment basis.
• Is an individual who looks at the immediate choices and direct experiences associated with food and eating: not to the distant health outcome of that choice.
• Is aware of and reflects on the effects caused by unmindful eating.
• Experiences insight about how he/she can act to achieve specific health goals as he/she becomes more attuned to the direct experience of eating and feelings of health.
• Becomes aware of the interconnection of earth, living beings, and cultural practices and the impact of his/ her food choices has on those systems.

SIMPLE TIPS TO BECOME A MORE MINDFUL EATER!

Eat Unplugged. Avoid watching TV, surfing the net, reading the paper, etc. while eating. When you eat, just eat.

Take time to focus on the sensations of the food. The smell, taste, and texture of the food. Try eating in silence (this may not always be possible, but experiment with it when you have a chance). Turn off external noises and when you eat, just eat.

Practice. Your current eating habits did not develop overnight, therefore neither will becoming a mindful eater. It will take practice and patience. Learn to re-eat and taste foods. Set aside time each week to practice mindful eating. Slow down, taste the food, set no boundaries on what can and cannot be eaten, pay attention to what you really enjoy eating compared to foods you eat “just because.”

Re-assess your favorites. We all have “favorite foods” but often times these so called “favorites” are really just habitual “favorites.” Meaning in the hustle and bustle of life, we have stopped asking ourselves “do I still really enjoy chocolate cake, or do I enjoy the memories and feelings that are associated with chocolate cake.” You will surprise yourself to learn what foods you really do love, compared to foods you eat because of habit or the feelings that are associated with it.

Re-connect with food. Plant a garden, cook, visit a local farm, make bread or pasta from scratch. Taking the time to re-connect with food and seeing where it comes from can give you a whole new appreciation of the nourishment you feed your body.

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