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Balancing The Holiday Season With Mindful Eating And Consistent Habits

Written by: Amparo Penny, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Amparo Penny

The holiday season can be a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness. It can also be a time when our healthy eating and exercise habits are challenged as we are surrounded by delicious feasts and tempting treats. While it's perfectly normal to indulge a bit during the holiday season, it's also important to strike a balance between enjoying the festivities and maintaining consistent habits for your overall well-being. In this article, we'll explore how mindful and intuitive eating practices can help you survive the holiday season without guilt and judgement, and how consistent habits are invaluable.

Happy man brining stuffed turkey in dining room during family Thanksgiving dinner.

Mindful eating


Mindful eating is about being present in the moment, paying attention to your body's hunger and fullness cues, and savoring every bite. Here are some helpful ways you can apply mindful eating during the holiday season:


a. Slow down: Enjoy your meals and snacks at a relaxed pace. Eating slowly can help you savor your food, recognize when you're full, and prevent eating past fullness cues. Remember that the body sends satiation cues to the brain approximately 20 minutes after eating to signal that it is full, so give your body enough time to “catch up” to your brain.


b. Eliminate distractions: Turn off the TV, put away your phone, and focus on the meal and experience. Engage your senses by appreciating the textures, flavors, and aromas of the dishes. There will likely be dishes served during this time that you don’t normally eat throughout the year, so take your time to savor the unique and different flavors.


c. Listen to your body: Tune in to your body's hunger and fullness cues. Try to eat when you're hungry and stop when you're pleasantly satiated, not when your plate is empty. Give yourself grace if you eat past fullness occasionally on the holidays, and perhaps give yourself permission to do this on the actual holiday, as opposed to the days and weeks leading up to the event.


Intuitive eating


Intuitive eating involves reestablishing a healthy relationship with food by honoring your body's hunger and fullness cues and rediscovering the satisfaction and enjoyment from food without judgement. Here's how you can incorporate intuitive eating principles during the holiday season:


a. Reject food guilt: It's important to free yourself from the guilt associated with enjoying holiday treats. Remember that occasional indulgences are a normal part of life, and one meal is not going to drastically change your weight or body composition in one direction or the other.


b. Trust your body: Your body knows when it needs nutrient-dense foods for nourishment and when it's just craving something tasty. Listen to your cravings and choose foods that truly satisfy you as well as provide you with the nutrients your body needs. Trust yourself to know the difference between physical hunger and “emotional hunger”, or the need to satisfy an urge as a coping skill.


c. Pay attention to fullness: When you're at holiday gatherings, check in with your body and assess whether you're truly hungry or eating out of habit or social pressure. NOTE: it’s tempting to engage in “Last Supper” or “F*ck it” eating around the holidays because you don’t think you will have these kinds of foods again, then promising yourself that you’ll “eat clean on Monday”. This kind of black-or-white thinking can keep us stuck in a “binge-restrict” cycle, going back and forth between two extremes – eating past fullness and overcompensating afterwards with extra exercise or restriction of foods.


Maintain consistency in your habits


Consistency is important for overall well-being. While it's okay to indulge during the holidays, it's equally important to stay consistent with your healthy habits throughout the season. Here are a few ways to remain consistent with your habits over the holidays and beyond:


a. Balance your meals: Eat a wide variety of meals and snacks that include nutrient-dense, balanced options alongside your favorite holiday treats. This can help you maintain nutrition and enjoyment over the next few months so you don’t feel deprived.


b. Stay active: Create and/or maintain a regular exercise routine. Physical activity can help your body process and digest the holiday meals and boost your mood. It also helps to keep your metabolism active and your energy levels stable, which will come in handy during this busy holiday season. And lastly, exercise is a great stress reliever in case your family gatherings are leading to any anticipatory anxiety.


c. Prioritize self-care: The holidays can be stressful, so remember to make time for yourself and recharge your batteries. Try to maintain regular sleep patterns, manage stress with effective coping skills, stay hydrated, and practice relaxation or mindfulness techniques.


Conclusion


Surviving the holiday season with mindful and intuitive eating while maintaining consistent habits is all about balance. You don't need to deprive yourself of your favorite holiday dishes, although you can enjoy them in moderation while staying attuned to your body's hunger and fullness cues. By practicing mindful eating, embracing intuitive eating principles, and ensuring consistency in your overall habits, you can navigate the holiday season with both joy and health in mind. Remember, it's not about what you eat on the holiday itself; what matters is how you approach your choices in the days and weeks leading up to it!


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Amparo Penny Brainz Magazine
 

Amparo Penny, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Amparo Penny is a licensed clinician and health and mindset coach, who helps people stop obsessing about food and their bodies and get their sanity back. She helps people end black or white thinking around food and exercise and change their mindset to developing healthy habits FOR LIFE. This was what helped to end her 20+ year battle with her body, yo-yo dieting, and using exercise as punishment. And now it's her mission to help others end this battle and find food freedom!

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