It is the holiday season and along with presents and parties come platters. There is no escaping treats for the rest of the month. So, in the holiday spirit, I offer advice on how to increase your enjoyment of the season’s edible offerings by using mindfulness.
There is a growing body of research suggesting that mindful eating is related to healthier food choices, reduced calorie intake and reduced susceptibility to hunger cues. An article from last year in Appetite demonstrated that mindfulness even increased the enjoyment of eating chocolate.
Subjects were given either chocolate or crackers. They ate them normally or with instructions. The mindful instructions consisted of looking at the chocolate or cracker before eating, noticing color and shape, and holding the food in their mouths before swallowing to increase the taste sensation. The subjects in the mindful chocolate group had a more positive mood than subjects who ate the chocolate without instruction. Guiltily swallowing treats or food is not a feel-good situation. Here are four easy mindful eating tips for the season:
▪ Sit Down
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Look over the buffet before choosing what you are going to eat. The foods you love might be at the end of the table. When you have what you want, sit down. Sitting helps you relax and pay attention to what you are eating.
▪ Slow Down
It is not a race. Take your time. Take smaller bites and put your fork down occasionally. Completely chew your food to assist with digestion. Have conversation with family and friends.
Use all your senses when eating. Look at the food, appreciate its aroma, recognize the texture and, of course, the taste. Choose the foods you love and appreciate what you are eating.
▪ Satisfy Learn to recognize the feeling of fullness and stop eating when you are there. Know that you can get more if hunger returns.
Increasing mindfulness is a wonderful gift to give yourself.
Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.