With the holiday season now in full swing, for many of us, it’s a time of indulgence when it comes to food. As such, healthy eating can be a major challenge for those trying to maintain optimal health and weight.
There’s a way to enjoy the holidays and the delicious food that comes with it and still be watchful of what you eat without dampening your enjoyment of the festive season. As such, mindful eating is an option to consider. It’s about choosing food that pleases you, nourishes your body and uses all your senses to explore, savor and taste without overeating, according to The Center for Mindful Eating.
“When we talk about mindful eating, it’s not about deprivation or guilt, it’s about truly experiencing your food, which can help you feel more satisfied after eating less,” said Dr. Janet E. Solis, a family practice physician with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “Mindful eating is not a weight-loss plan, though several studies indicate it can help with weight loss and eating disorders – including binge eating.”
According to the American Heart Association, being mindful and paying attention to the food you consume can help you eat healthier and have more appreciation for what you ingest. Mindful eating doesn’t mean dieting or food restrictions – it’s about pausing to take it all in.
When it comes to holiday eating, the American Heart Association offers these simple tips:
● Ponder: Before you eat, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” Sometimes we think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty, bored or stressed. Ask yourself, ‘Do I need nourishment in the form of food, or could it be something else?’
● Appraise: When your food is in front of you, take a moment before you eat. How does it look? How does it smell? Do you really want it? Is it more than you need?
● Slow: Slow down, like waaay down! Put your fork down between bites. Really chew your food and taste it. Slowing down helps your brain catch up with your stomach.
● Savor: Really enjoy your food. How does the texture feel in your mouth? What are all the complex flavors you can taste? Take a moment to savor the satisfaction of each bite.
● Stop: When you’re full, stop! Sounds obvious, right? But, hey, cleaning your plate isn’t necessary. By noticing when you’re full and stopping to eat, you may avoid unnecessary calories and indigestion.
In a recent NPR/PBS News Hour poll, 44% of Americans were somewhat or very likely to make a New Year’s resolution, with losing weight and healthy eating being among the top choices. Mindful eating can help you achieve those goals.
“The good news is that healthy eating resulting in even a modest weight loss of 5% to 10% of your total body weight is likely to produce health benefits such as improvements to your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels,” Dr. Solis said.
If you’re interested in learning how you can enjoy a more healthful and stress-free holiday season, Kaiser Permanente offers the following online resources:
Dr. Solis emphasized it’s still possible to enjoy the holidays and be mindful of the amount of food you eat. “As the holiday season comes to a close, why not continue on the path and consider a mindful approach to eating as you enter the new year,” she said.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.2 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: https://about.kaiserpermanente.org/