For many, the holidays are a time to savor traditions. And while many traditional holiday foods are comforting and delicious, they aren’t always the healthiest.
Our dietitians encourage wellness as a priority, but this doesn’t mean you should completely eschew holiday foods.
You may already be familiar with the wellness concept of moderation, but this term leaves a lot of room for interpretation. An alternative concept that’s gaining more traction in the wellness world is mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the simple practice of bringing your awareness to the present moment. It’s a concept aimed to help you enjoy experiences as they happen instead of allowing your mind to wander to the past or future, which may foster stress or anxiety.
This may sound like an easy concept, but it’s surprisingly difficult in practice.
As an exercise, try a 60-second mindful meditation: focus your mind on your body’s sensations, the sounds in the room, and what’s happening around you.
Did your thoughts wander? Were you able to stay completely present?
Practicing mindfulness has been shown to improve both mental and physical health outcomes, including a reduction in stress and anxiety, enhanced body image, and improved eating patterns. The research is compelling, and has been shown to be beneficial for both adults and kids.
You may not be ready to jump head-first into a mindful meditation routine, but there are a few simple habits you can establish to reap some of the benefits:
Eat without distractions.
Eating should be its own activity. Sit down away from the computer, put away your phone, and turn off the TV. All of your attention should be on the meal.
Appreciate your food by talking about it at the table.
If you’re eating with others, talk about the ingredients used, where it came from, and how it was prepared. This is exceptionally effective if you’re a parent and you want to get your kids involved in the kitchen!
Take it small and slow.
Start with a smaller portion and eat slowly. Notice your hunger/fullness cues. You may find that you're satisfied sooner if you take the time to fully appreciate your food.
If you have any other ways you practice mindfulness, please share them below!