5 Easy Mindful Eating Tips to Enjoy Christmas to the Full, Healthily
As life has been busier, food has become all about being ‘on the go’; convenience and drive-thru reign over traditional meal habits as we are encouraged to multitask our way through breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mealtimes have given way to scrolling on devices, working on laptops, or even just mindlessly snacking all evening only to still feel cravings later.
Christmastime brings its own joys and challenges; for every delicious mince pie, there is a tray of canapés that need scoffing - for every feast, a tin of Quality Street. As much as we all want to indulge in every treat the festive season has to offer, the inevitable New Year health kick looms and no one wants to spend Christmas worrying about starting 2020 on the wrong foot. So how can we keep our physical wellbeing a priority without denying ourselves all the wonderful tastes of Christmas?
‘Mindful eating’ began as a Buddhist meditative practice, and has now become a mainstay of modern-day wellness. Mindful eating focuses specifically on full enjoyment and appreciation of food, and has been popularised as the perfect antidote to the number-obsessed, restrictive diet culture that has come to the fore in recent decades. Evidence suggests that it can support weight loss, enhance one’s relationship with food including for those who struggle with disordered eating, and even improve body image.
Essentially, it’s about taking small steps to approach each meal and snack with intent and purpose, and re-connecting brain and body by using every sense to get as much pleasure as possible out of eating something delicious and nourishing.
Try these five great starting tips to develop your mindful eating skills:
- Reaching for a snack? Consult your headspace first by asking yourself some questions to better understand why you feel the impulse to eat what’s in front of you. Are you hungry? Are you bored? Is that the most appealing food available to you? Are you eating that food simply because it was offered to you? Is this a conscious choice, or habit? Will eating this now mean that you can’t eat something you like more later? Will you fully enjoy this food at this point in time?
- Drink a glass of water before eating to cleanse your palate. This tip is used a lot as an appetite suppressant, but in the context of Mindful Eating this can be an excellent way of switching your mind into the ‘event’ of eating food. Turn ‘eating’ from a chore or passive necessity into an active pleasure by preparing your taste-buds like an artist priming a canvas.
- Clear away all screens, laptops, books and distractions to create a peaceful dining environment. We live in a multi-task society, and the time spent eating can feel like dead time that needs to be filled with tasks. Designate a meal or a snack as sacred, something that both requires and deserves your full attention.
- Until you feel confident and practised, take your time by setting a fixed number of chews, and try to notice something new with each bite. If you are eating avocado toast topped with tomatoes, perhaps you first notice the roughness of the toast. Then the creaminess of the avocado, the sweetness of the tomato, the combination of seasoning, and so on. Think creatively about what you are actively using to nourish your body and mind to infuse the experience with appreciation and gratitude.
- Once you have practised these techniques, try to make every single choice conscious to draw the mindful awareness across the entire eating experience. This may sound daunting, but it can be as simple as selecting your plate and utensil with care, choosing your seat thoughtfully and sitting down to eat with deliberate purpose, as well as taking full advantage of every sense by taking a moment for visual presentation, smelling before tasting, and listening to the sound of the food as you chew.
There is no fixed way to try mindful eating, but consciously prioritising enjoyment of and engagement with food over Christmas will put you in your best frame of health to keep the good spirits going through to the New Year. Allow yourself to experience the full scope of life’s pleasures, to be a more invigorated you.
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