The holidays are upon us, and with the holidays comes … food! Diet and weight-loss goals are often tossed to the side. For some, the holidays are an emotional time, and we use food to cope. We lose control as we feast on calorie-laden dishes, lavish desserts and snacks of all varieties, and then we feel guilty about it later as we step on the scale to survey the damage. It doesn’t have to be this way! Mindful eating throughout the holidays helps you enjoy the foods you love and stay in control of what and how much of these foods you allow to enter your body.

What is mindful eating? To put it simply, mindful eating is slowing down and paying attention to what you’re eating. It’s taking time to taste your food, really taste it, maybe for the first time in a long time. It’s paying attention to how food makes you feel both when you’re eating it and after you eat it. It’s learning to enjoy food, to let food nourish you – physically and emotionally, to be in control of food and not to let food control you.

Mindful eating is simple, but it takes time to develop. It takes practice. But it’s a practice you can begin today, as soon as your next meal.

To practice mindful eating, all you have to do is take one bite at a time. Set your fork down (or the roll or the cookie) between bites. Chew your food. Taste it. Think about what you’re eating and how it delights you (or doesn’t). When you are completely finished with the bite of food, then you can pick up your fork and take the next bite. If a food delights you, enjoy more of it! If a food does not delight you, feel free to not eat any more. When you begin to feel satisfied (no longer hungry), stop eating. Don’t wait until you are full. Do not feel any pressure to clean your plate. A happy (and healthy) human is more important than a happy plate.

That’s all there is to it. Practicing mindful eating during the holidays will help you enjoy food more while eating less of it. It may also help you lose weight (and keep it off). It’s a gift you give to yourself.

Here are a few additional eating hacks to help you enjoy the holidays, one bite at a time:

  • Use a smaller plate.
  • Only make one trip through the serving line, no seconds.
  • Survey the foods before you go through the serving line. Choose the foods you most enjoy.

Happy holidays and happy eating, from AFMC!