Written by Kayla Cane, Graduate at Florida State University and Dietetic Intern at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Precepted by Afaf Qasem, MS, RDN, LDN- Director of Quality of Life Services at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare
From Thanksgiving to Christmas, the holidays are when we get excited about whipping up our favorite dishes to share at the dinner table. From creamy casseroles to decadent desserts, there's something on the table for everyone.
Ever thought about learning how to listen to your body to help you overcome feeling uncomfortably full? Try mindful eating.
Mindful eating is a way to help improve your relationship with food and listen to your hunger cues. This concept fosters the ability to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. The mindful eating approach is a way to slow down and enjoy your food in the present moment.
There tends to be so much food during holidays, we become distracted, causing us to ignore our hunger and fullness cues. If you try mindful eating, you will make it through the holiday festivities eating your favorite seasonal foods without feeling uncomfortably full.
First, some basics about our body and hunger. There are two hormones produced by our brains, ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin says, "Hey, you're hungry, let's eat!" whereas leptin tells us, "Alright, let's stop eating." Meaning, you eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. These two hormones work together to ensure you maintain energy balance to get you through a long day of family time and cheering on your favorite football team.
To help you adjust to your environment and make listening to your body a little easier during the holidays, try these tips:
- Try not to skip meals! Waiting to eat until dinner time will lead you to overeat.
- Cut recipes in half. We often prepare huge portions of side dishes, leaving so many leftovers that we tend to eat them multiple times throughout the day.
- Select smaller portions of each food you like. This way, you get a little taste of everything.
- Whatever you don't finish on your plate, save it for later. This will help you recognize when your body is full.
- If you do have leftovers, remember you can save some for the next day, so you don't have to cook.
- Leave extra food on your neighbors’ porch, so you're not stuck with so much.
Listening to your body and hormones will take time; it does not happen overnight. To get started with mindful eating, try using your five senses. Looking, touching, hearing, smelling and tasting the food in your mouth will help you slow down and listen to your belly when it's full.
This activity can help you build awareness and understand what it feels like to eat mindfully. Let's practice:
Remember, small changes over time can lead to an overall healthier lifestyle — make sure the changes you choose motivate you. Let's enjoy the holidays with our family (people in your household) while staying safe and honoring our health.
For more information on health and wellness, visit TMH.ORG.