Healthy Holiday Eating: Practice Makes Perfect

By Marsha Hudnall on 12/20/2010
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It’s the day of the party. You wake already worried about how you’re going to manage the cheeses, chips, dips, nuts, drinks, cookies…the list goes on. You imagine countless strategies to keep you away from the temptations of the season. Actually, you don’t have to work hard to come up with those strategies; everywhere you turn, someone is spouting advice for helping you stay away from the goodies during the holidays. Yet when you get to the party, the food still calls your name.  You struggle through it all, more focused on the food than having fun.  You don’t feel good about your eating or yourself after the party.

Imagine this instead. You arrive at the party, feeling good, a little hungry but not too much. You say hello to friends and family, then check out the buffet and decide what you’d like to try. First on the list: the scrumptious-looking brie stuffed with mascarpone mixed with dried apricots, cranberries and walnuts. You cut a slice and spend few seconds just enjoying how it looks and the anticipation of how great it’s going to taste. You bite into it, and know the anticipation was spot on. As the cheese melts on your tongue and you savor the sweetness of the dried fruits and the slight crunch of the walnuts, you know that life is good. As the deliciousness fades from your mouth, you take a moment again to look closely at what you are enjoying, then bite off another round of pleasure.

While the first scenario might be what many of us usually do to help avoid weight gain during the holidays, here at our women’s live-in healthy weight loss program, we’ve always recommended the second. It’s what mindful eating is all about, and it can also be called practicing success, instead of practicing your problems, or as Darla, our psychologist, calls it, admiring your problems.

It’s also one reason we were so excited to see new research suggesting that doing this can help us lead to eating in a way that truly satisfies. Compared to the typical hurried and guilty holiday eating of weight worriers which does nothing to satisfy and a whole lot to keep us on the search for satisfaction, practicing mindful eating in our minds, as well as in real life, may help us eat what we want in a way that truly feels good both during and after the eating. We enjoy it fully and end up eating only enough that feels enjoyable.  For those who overeat out of deprivation and guilt during the holidays, that often means less.

So at the beginning of this two weeks of holiday, when celebrations around food are a guaranteed thing for many of us, practice eating, both mentally and physically, what you want in a way that makes you truly feel great, both mentally and physically. Then keep at it throughout 2011 and beyond, too. In our book, it’s the only way to go, and we’ve seen it work for countless women.

What do you think — could this work for you?

photo by gozdeo via stock.xchng

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