Mindfulness can sometimes seem really challenging especially when the holiday season is fast approaching. The holiday seasons, from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas, are often paired with an abundance of delicious food. Often the abundance of food can lead to the over consumption of tasty treats and massive portions at mealtimes. So how can we make it through the holiday without a food baby and the food coma that often follows the large festive feasting? Here are some simple habits that help.
#1 Use smaller dishes
This can be an easy swap that can make a big difference. Picking the smaller plate over the larger dinner plate, limits how much food you can eat at a time. This means that even if you go up for seconds you are more likely to eat less. This is because not only can you fit less food on a smaller plate, but there are more frequent stop points. Let say that you can fit the same amount of food on four small plates as two large plates. You’re more likely to not go back for third and fourth helping then getting a second helping on a larger plate.
#2 Leave the food in the kitchen
This is another step that works to reduce the ease of getting second helpings. When you leave the food in the kitchen, rather then on the table, you have more action steps involved with getting that second serving. You’d have to break from the conversation, walk into the kitchen and then serve up your next plate full. This gives you more time to contemplate whether or not you actually want or need more food. This can have two effects. It could simply stop you from going and getting the next serving when you might have mindlessly eaten the food that was on the table in front of you or it will give you time to reduce how much you put on your plate before returning to the table.
#3 Put your utensils down between bites
This habit is meant to slow you down. When we are eating, we are often preparing our next bite of food before we haven’t even started to chew the food we just put in our mouths. So slow down, put your utensils down and actually enjoy the food that is in your mouth.
#4 Slow down and take breaks
This leads nicely into the fourth habit, slow down and take breaks. So, you have started to put your utensils down between bites of food and now you notice that you are not eating as fast. The simple act of letting go of you utensil takes time, and you might also notice that you are enjoying your food more and need to eat less to feel satiated, but we can expand on the idea of slowing down. It can take up to 20 minutes for the signals from the stomach to reach the brain saying that we are full. We can eat a lot of food in 20 minutes. And if you start paying attention around this holiday season it is normally 15 to 20 minutes after walking away from the table that we notice the food baby forming and the food coma setting in. So, with that in mind take breaks between servings and if you can stretch breaks between courses like dinner and desert, you will notice the difference. The French have been doing this for a very long time and are known for their three to five-hour long dinner parties. I recommend that you take time to enjoy your company, your food, and the celebrations of the season. There is no rush.
#5 Focus on enjoyment
The whole reason we have these festive feasts is the celebrate the season with those that we love and hold dear, so why rush the festivities. Often when we go on “diets” we focus on the food and what we can or can not have, yet we lose the connection with the food and the enjoyment of eating and share a meal with others. So, although there are habits that can help you become more mindful, what is truly key for mindfulness to work is a shift in mindset. A mindful mindset encompasses the full enjoyment of the food, the location, the process of how the food got to your table and the people that you are sharing the food with.
So, this holiday season I wish you a merry mindful holiday season and that you learn these habits and carry them into the new year.