I have a special treat for you this week! I asked my friend, Ali Katz, from A to Zen Meditation and Coaching to help ease us into the holiday season with her best tips for mindful eating. If there is one thing we could all use more of during the holidays, it’s mindfulness! I love the tools Ali is sharing and hope that they serve you. Be sure to ask questions in the comments and share your mindful eating successes or challenges so that Ali and I can support you. I now leave you in Ali’s expert care.
Have you been smelling pumpkin spice everywhere? It’s hard to believe that the holidays are quickly approaching, but ready or not, here they come!
When we think of the holiday season our very first thoughts may be of family time and wrapped gifts, but inevitably our very next thought usually consists of FOOD. Lots and lots of food.
I used to eat at the holidays until my stomach hurt and I had to secretly unbutton my pants, and then felt guilty and fed up with myself (sorry, couldn’t help it!).
My relationship with food began to change when I started incorporating mindfulness into my mealtimes. As a self-care coach for women, and a meditation and mindfulness expert, these are now some of the many tools that I teach my clients. They have been life changing for me and I encourage you to give some of these tools a try. Here are my 5 best tips for eating more mindfully:
1. Do a quick body scan before you start eating
I have always been a really fast eater. I mean so fast that I have caught people from nearby tables at restaurants staring at me in the past. Totally embarrassing! When I started paying attention, I noticed that I often felt a bit of tension in my body before I began a meal.
I combat this now with releasing this tension before I eat. When I take the time to do a quick body scan from head to toe in order to notice where I am holding stress, to breathe into it, and release it, I start my meal much calmer and in turn eat a lot slower.
2. Bless your food
I take a brief moment to bless my food with just a sentence or two such as, “I love my food and my food loves me,” or “thank you Universe for this nourishing meal.” A touch of gratitude goes a long way for setting the tone of your meal. I take a brief moment to acknowledge how much this food is helping my body to stay healthy and I contemplate all the people that helped get this food to me. It isn’t just about the chef, it is also about the farmers, the delivery truck drivers and the people who work at the store. This is simply another example of how we are all interconnected. AND…it is hard to bless Doritos and cupcakes so you also have an extra minute to pull out of a bad situation!
3. I decide if I even like it!
I use the good french fry and the bad french fry example here. We have all had amazingly delicious fries before. They are piping hot with the perfect amount of salt. They are worth it! Most of us have also had cold, mushy fries that are 100% not worth it. Those are the ones we eat and then feel a wave of guilt wash over us as we ponder why we can’t make better choices for ourselves.
Now, when I am eating something that is anywhere from borderline to downright unhealthy I take one bite and determine if I even like it enough to have more. If I take a bite and really love it and want another, I will savor it without beating myself up. If I take a bite and deem it completely not worth it, I simply stop at one bite.
4. Limit technology while you eat
Are there days that you waste lots of time on the internet and social media? If so, join the club. I promise you are not alone! It almost happens without us even realizing it, right? Well, if we are being that mindless during our www binge, just imagine how many chips or chocolate covered almonds we can pop into our mouth without even realizing it. We eat much more mindfully when we actually focus on eating. We enjoy the taste and smell of our food, we put our fork down between bites, and we appreciate what we are eating more. I try to make eating my main activity, not something I do while I am watching TV or scrolling Facebook. Mindfulness also includes sitting down while we eat, and not ever eating out of a bag or box. Always decide how much of something you are going to eat before you start by mindfully putting it on a plate.
5. The in/out rule
I believe that life should be full of joy and love. We should have adventures and experiences because they help us to expand as individuals. In my opinion, we are not meant to live a life of supreme restriction when it comes to food, unless there are medical reasons behind it. That being said, I do limit unhealthy items in my diet, but I do so in a way that feels good to me with the in/out rule.
When I am in my home I eat really healthy. I don’t eat anything white like pasta, potatoes, or bread, and I only eat natural, raw sugar like honey. My favorite treat is 72% or higher dark chocolate and I have a piece twice a day, after lunch and dinner. I don’t feel deprived at home and I enjoy coming up with creative ways to enjoy lots of produce.
I balance this healthy routine at home with occasional splurges when I am out. For me, I limit these splurges to when I am out because it can be a slippery slope for me. The last time I kept salted caramel gelato at home I was eating it every single day, not as an occasional treat. Instead I treat myself outside of my home. If I see a dessert that I want a bit of, I have it at a restaurant and I don’t beat myself up. The in/out rule really allows me to eat super healthy most of the time without feeling guilty about indulging once or twice a week.
I truly hope that these mindful eating tips help you not just over the holidays, but all year long.
Ali Katz is a self-care coach for women and a meditation expert. She is also the author of the bestselling book “Hot Mess to Mindful Mom.” Ali helps her clients to drop the struggle, let go of stress, and to find balance in their lives. Book a Power Hour with Ali or learn more about her three and six month programs at http://www.atozenmeditation.com.