December 2022 Mindful Eating During the Holidays
By Alexandra Madachy
The holiday season is a time to come together to celebrate traditions, spend time with loved ones, express gratitude, and of course, enjoy holiday food. It can be a great occasion to practice mindfulness, especially mindful eating. Mindful eating is a unique approach to food that focuses on the relationship and experience you have while eating. This holiday season, how can you practice mindful eating?
What is Mindfulness?
The practice of mindfulness and mindful behaviors originated from Zen Buddhism. Mindful principles focus on being present and aware. It emphasizes a relaxed, non-judgmental, and deliberate approach to tasks or activities. Practicing mindful behaviors can be rewarding as it is a reminder to accept and appreciate all aspects of life.
What is Mindful Eating?
The concept of mindfulness can be applied to how you value and experience food. Staying mindful while eating can be beneficial for maintaining a healthy, balanced, and enjoyable relationship with food. Mindful eating encourages a closer connection with the foods you consume. At its core, mindfulness while eating allows you to build a deeper, more intimate relationship and understanding of food.
Tips for Mindful Eating
Mindful eating can include a broad range of concepts. Here are some practices to encourage mindfulness while eating.
Experience food through different senses. It can be beneficial to appreciate foods with your eyes first. What colors stand out to you? Is the presentation appealing? Then, take a deep breath in and truly smell the food. What spices or herbs do you smell? What flavors do you associate with each smell? Finally, take a small bite and make note of the textures, temperatures, and flavors of the food. What feelings do you associate with this meal?
Take time to enjoy meals. Slowing down to appreciate food through different senses can help maintain a mindful relationship with food. Bringing awareness to the act of chewing and swallowing is also important in mindful eating. Thoroughly chewing food and taking appropriate bite sizes can aid the digestion process.
Approach food with a non-judgmental mindset. It can be easy to categorize food as ‘good vs. bad.’ However, a mindful approach to eating encourages the appreciation of all foods. Categorizing foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ can disconnect yourself with the true value of food, which is to nourish one’s mind, body, and soul.
Practice gratitude. Mindfulness while eating encourages you to recognize all aspects of food, including the processes that brought it to your plate. It can be valuable to appreciate the time and effort put into the meal by friends, family, or yourself.
Mindful Eating During the Holidays
Although the holiday season tends to be fast-paced and busy, it can be a great opportunity to reconnect with food and practice mindfulness. Mealtimes can be used to slow down and connect with those around you. It can encourage us to be present and show gratitude. Holidays celebrate all different types of foods, some that bring special traditions, pleasure, or nostalgia. These sentiments can be a reminder of what makes food so nourishing and enjoyable. Mindful eating during the holidays can remind you to appreciate all foods, and to welcome the feelings associated with holiday foods. A mindful approach to food and eating can encourage a positive, accepting relationship with food.
About the Author:
Madachy is a junior majoring in nutrition and dietetics. She is interested in cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health/nutrition. A fun fact about Madachy: she grew up in Colorado and loves hiking, rock climbing, and backpacking. she says “I am grateful to live in a beautiful state with lots to explore!”
For additional resources for healthy eating, check out these programs from our registered dietitian nutritionists. Find delicious and healthy recipes on our Recipes page! More health tips are also available at the College of Health and Human Sciences Pinterest board. Lastly, don’t forget to sign up for the KRNC monthly newsletter!