Mindful Eating during the Holidays

Mindful, joyful eating is a recurring theme here at jenniferostman.com. It is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, and I don't think it can be overstated. Mainly because, when have decided to change our eating habits, and we embark on this journey to optimal health, sometimes we can just get so wrapped up in it. We miss the forest for the trees. We over-analyze every bite of food, and forget to enjoy ourselves.

Food is meant to be enjoyed, especially around the holidays. It brings people together, it is an integral part of tradition, ceremonies and love. Food is not the enemy.  You do not have to run "x" number of miles or do the allocated number of squats to "earn" a treat. Instead, we need to see food as nourishment, as fuel, and as a source of joy!

a bunch of yoga teachers eatin pizza. Photo by Doug Davis.  d2studios.net

a bunch of yoga teachers eatin pizza. Photo by Doug Davis. d2studios.net

So how do we put this into practice? How do we enjoy holiday food without going overboard? How do we take our minds off neurotically counting calories or swapping out one treat for 30 burpees? How do we give ourselves permission to indulge without then falling down the rabbit hole of sugar?

It's called mindful eating, or intuitive eating. And trust me, it takes a lot of practice. This is not a switch you can simply turn on. This is learning to listen to your body, trust your instincts, and give yourself permission. 

Listen to your Body: Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Are you tired? Are you bored? Are you sad/anxious/worried? Before you grab for the cheese board, check in with yourself. No judgement please. Just a check in, to ask yourself how you are feeling. And by all means, if your body says you are hungry, then you should EAT! But if you are snacking for any other reason, maybe take a step back and lovingly answer those feelings with something other than food. A mani/pedi perhaps, if you are feeling stressed!

Trust Your Instincts: I think we have lost touch with our instincts. Did you know that we are biologically wired to seek out high calorie food? Don't get mad at yourself because you can't seem to cut your cravings for junk. Calories = energy, and back when food was scarce we needed the most calories possible in order to provide our bodies with the energy needed to live. So if you are trying to lose weight by eating low fat, low calorie diet foods, you are literally trying to fight nature. Now this isn't permission to give in and eat all the junk food you want! When you know better, you do better. Meaning, seek nutrient dense foods. Don't worry about calories. Trust your body's instincts and feed it with NUTRIENTS- these foods are satiating because your body is getting what it craves! 

Give Yourself Permission: Permission to experiment. Permission to indulge. Permission to stray from the plan. Or even permission to stick to a plan, if that's new for you. Because THIS is the key to mindful eating: how does food make you feel? If you decide that you are going to be 100% gluten free (despite the peer pressure from friends and family), do you FEEL amazing because you listened to what YOU need? 

And the last step. Immediately after you've eaten, check in again. You have baked holiday cookies with your grandchildren, and you've decided to enjoy a cookie (or two) with them. How special is that? You are filled with love and joy, and that cookie was part of the experience. Now what? Do you scold yourself for the rest of the day for indulging? Do you say "screw it" and mindlessly eat 8 more cookies that afternoon? Or do you give thanks for the experience, and move on to the next one?

I'd love to hear from you. What is your advice for mindful eating during the holidays?

All my love,

Jennifer