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Mindful Eating for the Holidays

Ok. You've survived Turkey Day. Like most of us you probably overindulged. You may even notice your clothes fitting a little more snugly. Did you know that the average person will put on between 7 and 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yikes!


With Christmas just a few weeks away you might be thinking: how can I prepare for another onslaught so I DON'T gain weight?

Image source: Treehugger.com

Here are some tips to strengthen your digestion using the Ayurvedic approach to intermittent fasting:


1. Avoid snacks in between meals

We typically eat more than we need by snacking or grazing through the day. This confuses and dampens the digestive fire or agni. Try to focus on 3 square meals a day with breakfast and dinner being smaller meals (especially dinner) since the agni is strongest at midday. This is why lunch is the most important meal and should not be skipped. Try to have lunch no later than 2 p.m.


2. Let your digestion rest between dinner and the next day's breakfast.

I call this the daily 12-hour daily fast. If you eat dinner by 7 p.m., then aim to refrain from eating breakfast until 7 a.m. the next morning. This allows your digestion to finish chewing on the day's meals, detoxify, and rest. Very simply put, don't snack after dinner. You'll fee much better when you wake up.


3. Eat lightly before and on the days you expect to over indulge.

Choose a simple and light breakfast or lunch before a holiday meal. Be careful not to skip earlier meals as this might backfire and you will probably over compensate later. If you're eating at someone else's home or at a restaurant, have a small snack before you go so you're not starving.


4. Eat mindfully. Try any of the following:

Take it slow.

Pay attention to your food while you eat it. Use all your senses to enjoy your food.

Turn off screens and other distractions.

Take bites mindfully and chew each bite until it is gone.

Pause to occasionally put your utensil down and take small sips of water.

Save talking until you're done eating if at all possible.

Check in after the first 10 minutes to see if you feel satisfied. It takes closer to 20 minutes to actually feel full but by then there's a good chance you've already eaten more than you need to. The slower you eat, the less you'll eat. If you don't feel full at the end of your meal, that's a good thing. It means you didn't over eat. It's a different feeling if you're actually still hungry.


5. Meal time is for eating food, not quenching your thirst.

Try this exercise: cup your two hands together. This is how big your stomach is. Don't aim to stuff it! The key is to leave room. Three quarters of it will be filled with food. The rest with a little liquid and space to help with processing.

Be careful not to drown your agni with beverages while you're eating. Focus on eating food. Sip on a small cup of water if you'd like. Get your liquids in between meals.


6. What if you overeat anyways? This might be a good time to skip your next meal to let your digestion recover. It happens!


Good luck and be sure to let me know how it goes. Who knows, if all goes well you might even lose weight!


Happy Holidays,

Heather


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