Healthy Tips for the Festive Season- Mindful Eating

OK so we are coming up to that time of year again! The fabulous festive season which is a great time to celebrate with family and friends. However many people ‘give up’ on being healthy or ‘go off their diet’ which is not a healthy mindset to have.

Nutted Out Nutrition’s dietitians would like to bring you a series of helpful hints over the next few weeks leading up to the party season so you can stop the ‘on-off’ approach to eating, enjoy the silly season and not end up with a giant post Christmas weight gain!

So our first topic to is:

Mindful Eating during the Festive Season

Christmas is just around the corner and for most people this is a time of excess -food, drinks, partying- the list goes on! Overindulgence at Christmas usually leads to weight gain followed by a new year’s resolution to lose weight, followed by a strict fad diet and then usually a yo-yo dieting affect all year.  Sound familiar?

Why not start your ‘new year’s resolution’ a month earlier by enjoying the occasion with friends and families without going overboard?

The key is to practice mindful eating, which is being aware of why you eat and what you eat and when you eat.  According to Professor Brian Wansink1, most of us have no idea how much we put in our mouths or for what reason.  “If we knew why we ate the way we do, we could eat a little less, eat a little healthier, and enjoy it a lot more,” he says.

And when you think about it that’s what many of us do at Christmas parties- how many canapes did you eat? How many biscuits did you eat with dip on them? How many handfuls of chips? Most people will have no idea or severely under estimate and say ‘about 3 sausage rolls’ forgetting that they had two handfuls of chips, 5 jatz with dip and a couple of meat pies- and that is all before dinner!

Top Tips for Practicing Mindful Eating:

  1. Pay attention: Don’t eat/drink like there’s no tomorrow, but when you reach for that cake or extra drinks, ask yourself, “Do I really feel like it or am I satisfied for now?”; “Am I still hungry or should I have it later when I’m hungry again?”.
  2. Be selective and eat slowly: In social functions, choose only high quality/exotic foods that you don’t normally have and eat slowly.  Savour every mouthful and enjoy every bit of it.
  3. Use a smaller plate but fill it up: our minds can play tricks on us by making us believe that we’ll go hungry if we our plate is not full as usual.  Research shows that we automatically eat more when we have bigger plates, so use a slightly smaller plate but make it full.

1. Author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think and director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University.

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