It’s that time of the year where Mariah Carey & Michael Bublé reappear in our lives singing their top Christmas hits. A time of year when indulgence abounds. Along with parties, gifts and decorations, the festive season tends to be associated with food, and it can be easy to get so caught up in celebratory feasts and nostalgic treats that we lose track of regular, balanced meals and the other healthy eating habits that serve us so well the rest of the year. However, indulging in these delicious but unhealthy foods can result in unhealthy weight gain. Keeping an eye on what you consume and how much you consume is essential to making sure you don’t start the new year with extra kilos.
Paying more attention to what, when and how you eat allows you to better tune in your body’s true physiological hunger cues and make choices that keep your energy and spirits up. While most experts recommend against setting lofty goals during the holiday season – simply getting through it is more than sufficient – practicing mindful eating beginning now can slowly but surely improve your relationship with food. Being mindful has been shown to be surprisingly effective at curbing harmful eating habits and fostering overall healthier behaviour. So how exactly do you practice this technique of mindful eating? We put together some tips from our domain experts on how to bring mindfulness into your meals throughout the holiday season.
1. Slow Down & Enjoy Yourself
It can take time for the stomach to send the message to your brain that you are full. Eat too quickly and you could miss the memo until it’s too late. Eating more slowly puts you in control and helps you enjoy every mouthful, so you feel more satisfied and give yourself the opportunity to stop before you overeat. The health benefits of eating slowly are well documented: taking your time during meals may actually prevent obesity and reduce associated risks, according to a study published online in the BMJ Open.
2. You Don’t Need to Have Everything All at Once
There is a saying, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”, which means that you can’t have everything. This applies to the holidays as well. You can eat most of the foods that you enjoy as long as you control the amount and don’t overeat. This means that you can indulge in some of your favourite foods during the holidays but that you will need to control the portion sizes of these foods and you probably can’t have everything that you want at each meal. If you can’t choose a favourite, enjoy all these things in smaller portion sizes.
3. Pick Healthier Options
You don’t have to give up your favourite foods and desserts if you eat a balanced diet. However, keep in mind that food’s main purpose is to fuel your body, not only to enjoy and celebrate. Utilise inventive elements and substitution. For instance, use honey or jaggery for the sugar, replace the harmful white flour in your recipe with healthy flour like whole wheat or ragi.
4. Be Drink Aware
Alcohol is a source of empty calories and is known to increase hunger. We are aware that extra calories in the body are stored as fat. As you consume alcohol, your inhibitions are reduced, and you tend to consume more calories from food as well.
5. Don’t Miss Meals to Compensate
If you skip meals, you will either wind up overeating at your next meal or develop a yearning for fatty, sugary items. Not the best circumstance to celebrate this festive season while staying active and healthy. You can start your morning with a healthy breakfast. A breakfast that is heavy in protein and fibres sets you up for a day of healthy eating.
The festive period can be a very difficult time to maintain a healthy diet. We should try our best to remain mindful of our eating habits and pay attention to what we put on our plates. If you do overeat, don’t beat yourself up. Just take a deep breath, move on and plan to make better choices moving forward!
About the Author:
Jun Quan has always been in the business of health and wellness. By day, he works with Actxa Wellness as the wellbeing co-lead. By night, he is a tennis coach & avid climber in hopes that he can someday merge his sporting and exercise knowledge with the wellness community.