Holiday season and Christmas festivities are well upon us, and with the big day fast approaching (where has this year gone?) it’s so easy to become consumed by the copious amounts of delicious food and drinks on offer. For some, this in an incredibly exciting time, however for others, the endless and overwhelming supply of food can be stress-inducing and bring about feelings of anxiety.
Regardless of how you feel around this time of year, being a little more mindful and intuitive around your food choices is probably something we could all do better at. Plus, it’s a great tool to help us feel more in control and at peace with what we do and don’t decide to eat.
To help you do so, we have created our top 5 tips on how you can practise being more mindful around food. But before we get into that, let’s take a step back to learn more about what mindful eating is and why as a relatively new approach to eating it gains so much positive attention.
What is Mindful Eating?
As the name suggests, mindful eating refers to being mindful about your food choices. It sounds a little lacklustre and rather basic - but we can promise you the principles of mindful eating may change your life! Dramatic, but true.
Mindful eating is definitely not another diet either (thank goodness for that) - it couldn’t be further from actually. Being mindful around your food encourages you to step away from rules, guidelines and restrictions (i.e - diet culture) and start tuning into your bodies natural signals - hunger & fullness. It really works by bringing focus to the task at hand (eating) and how you feel internally during that time.
Here at KOJA, what we love most about mindful eating is that it celebrates the joy and satisfaction of eating and identifies foods as more than just macronutrients and numbers. The method itself allows you to enjoy all of your favourite foods (free from guilt) without judging or criticising yourself. There isn’t much not to like!
Let’s get into it.
Our Top 5 Tips on eating mindfully this silly season:
1 - Check in with yourself.
If you’ve dieted in the past - you may have been told to ignore your hunger and fullness signals. If thats the case, it can take you a bit of time to get used to acknowledging these senses again. The point is, we ideally want to start eating when we are hunger and stop when we are full. Again, basic and obvious, we get it - but so many of us has lost tune with out bodies and usually end up eating out of stress/boredom/emotion or because the food is simply ‘just there’ (we are looking at you endless grazing platters). It seems we have all completely forgotten how to read or tune into our bodies means of communication.
Next time you reach for another party snack - ask yourself if you’re actually hungry. If so, great! If not, reconsider your choices to prevent over-eating. Don’t forget to check back in with yourself during periods of eating to assess when you are satisfied too.
2 - Slow down friends.
Eating slowly makes it easier for you to be mindful with your food choices. Use your senses (all 5 of them) and pay attention to the taste, smell, sound, texture and look of the food you are eating. This might take a little while to get used to, but a practise as simple as this can help you to appreciate your food more and prevent over consuming.
The perfect segway into our next point:
3 - Remove distractions.
No, we aren’t talking about your overly chatty friend from HR, what we are referring to are objects/devices etc that deter and distract you from tuning into your body and recognising the quality and quantity of food you are eating.
Have you ever watched a movie before and magically eaten a whole box of popcorn or block of chocolate without even registering? If so, this is the perfect example of being distracted and unaware of the food entering your mouth.
4 - Don’t skip meals or restrict your favourite foods.
Skipping meals in the name of ‘saving yourself for later’ means you are more likely to turn up to an event starving and eat more than you initially intended.
Continue to consume healthy balanced meals and snacks throughout the day and enjoy just the right amount of food to satisfy you!
Oh, and don't restrict your favourite foods either. This can lead to over-eating and the onset of a poor relationship with food. Eat your faves mindfully and move on!
5 - Enjoy it all too!
At the end of the day, the silly season falls once every year. Don’t get too caught up on the little things and forget to enjoy all of the other wonderful happenings taking place - like spending time with your loved ones, good food, christmas carols (the best part), and celebrating the incredibly challenging year that was!
Written by Millie Padula - Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist