Now that the holidays and their distractions are behind you, have you begun thinking about how to restore or maintain your healthy eating habits and overall wellness? The holiday season can be stressful and cause you to order your priorities poorly. Instead of keeping health and wellness at the top of your list, did it fall to the bottom while you planned parties and shopped for gifts?
Oftentimes, you may find yourself with a few extra pounds of weight and feeling sluggish, stressed, and sometimes even depressed. Are you experiencing these post-holiday health blues? Keep reading to find out how to improve your health and reverse the negative effects the holiday season had on you.
Use food as medicine and approach eating in a mindful way. What is mindful eating? Mindful eating is not a diet or meal plan; instead, it’s an emerging approach to health that fosters an awareness of what is going on in your body and mind. It encourages you to become aware of your emotional and physiological motivations to eat. By engaging in mindful eating, you are better able to balance what you eat, the way you eat and why you eat.
Here are three steps to get you started on the path to mindful eating:
Tune into physical characteristics of food – Tuning in to the physical characteristics of food involve using three of your senses: smell, taste and sight. With smell, you take in the aroma of the food. Make note of how it smells, is it a pleasant smell? With taste, make note of how it tastes in your mouth and whether it satisfies your taste buds. Notice how it feels in your mouth and whether you enjoy the texture. With sight, how does it look? Is it appealing to you? Use your mind’s eye to envision seeing yourself enjoying what you eat.
Tune into repetitive habits and the process of eating – Notice your daily eating patterns. Take note of what times of the day you eat and what activities you are doing that may contribute to mindless eating. These include watching television while you eat, eating at your desk while writing emails, or standing over the sink shoving food into your mouth. Also take notice of whom else is present while eating and what they might be eating; sometimes we like company and eat just because the other person is eating or is present.
Tune into mindless eating triggers – There are certain habits, activities, places, emotions and people that can trigger your eating habits and cause you to eat when you are not even aware of it. You must strive to become aware of what prompts you to eat. Take a deep look at your physical, emotional and environmental triggers. If you know how to recognize your triggers, then you can better anticipate them and catch yourself before you plunge and maybe even begin to change your habits.
Mindful eating is a long-term commitment and takes lots of practice. The main key to this approach is observation. You must first learn to observe your body cues, such as hunger, satiety and energy level. Second, you must observe your psychological state by being aware of your thoughts and emotional triggers. You will get lots of information by observing your mind and your body.
Practice being in the moment; this is easier said than done since most of us run on autopilot much of the time. Sometimes it’s easier to fall back on habit or routine rather than being in the moment. Habit and routine take the enjoyment and excitement out of everything and leave you feeling empty and numb. People often eat in an effort to fill the emptiness, however mindless eating only adds to the emptiness. When you are in the moment, you are more apt to notice things as they are happening. Furthermore, you are more aware of how your food tastes, smells, feels in your mouth, and whether it satisfies your hunger or leaves you feeling bloated and sluggish. Practice being in the moment by avoiding eating in front of the television, while driving, or while engaging in other activities and multitasking.
Mind your environment. Create a mindful environment to avoid a toxic environment. Mindful eating environments include those that do not include distractions, are comfortable and promote mindful eating.
Learning and practicing mindful eating will put you on the path to improved health and wellness for the rest of your life. You’ll experience increased energy levels, weight loss or maintenance, and an overall sense of peace with food.
Bonnie R. Giller helps chronic dieters break free of the pain of dieting and get the healthy body they love. She does this by creating a tailored solution that combines three essential ingredients: a healthy non-diet mindset, nutrition education and caring support. She utilizes the principles of intuitive eating, which is eating based on your internal signals of hunger and satiety versus situations or emotions. The result is they lose weight, keep it off without dieting and live a healthy life of guilt-free eating.