Being Mindful During the Holidays

holiday-seasonHave you ever noticed that during the winter your food preferences change?  This is because during the winter season our bodies move towards a sense of “groundedness”, and in many ways this is expressed through our food choices.  If you think about it, what is better than curling up on your couch, on a snowy day, with a big bowl of hearty soup? You wouldn’t do that in the summer.  In fact, during the winter you might notice that you desired more hot foods and meats in your diet, and heavier meals overall.  This is a perfect example of our body’s innate desire to generate balance between the internal and external.

Often this desire can turn into habitual overeating and discomfort during the holidays, if we forget to be mindful.  These behaviors can develop into negative thoughts and emotions towards ourselves, taking us out of the moment, and further spiraling down a less desired path.

In order to avoid this downward spiral, turn your focus toward the lifestyle shifts that will promote a healthy eating behavior during the holiday season.  Engage in regular introspection, respond to your most genuine needs (remember the 7 hungers?), and remember that you aren’t in a hurry so take the time to fully enjoy your meal.

So how can you start applying mindfulness to this holiday season? Follow these practices during your holiday celebrations to help establish your self-confidence, and really appreciate what the holidays are all about.

First, I understand that it can be overwhelming during family get-togethers due to all of the decadent food choices presented, as well as the pressure you may get from your family. My suggestion is to take a moment, breath deep, and check-in with your self.  Ask “What am I actually hungry for?” The truth is, by taking that moment, you may find that you are not physically hungry, and that you may be emotionally hungry, or even visually hungry.

During the holidays feelings of loneliness may present themselves, and your hunger may be representative to needing for emotional fulfillment.  Or you may be stressed, as we all are during the holidays, and food may offer a euphoric relief.  It is very common, during the holidays that our emotional feelings become intertwined and mistaken for physical hunger.  Taking that moment, before plating, allows us to identify our true cravings, and you may find that foods become more fulfilling and satisfying.

Offering gratitude is another way to be mindful during those holiday gatherings.  As you are presented with the gleaming delight of the holiday buffet, take a moment and pause to connect to your feelings.  Do you feel abundance or excitement? Give thanks for the experience.  This will promote a richer dining experience, by reminding us to appreciate and savor the delicious food choices.

I know I have said it before, and I will continue to say it because it is so important, but slow down during your dining experience.  Slowing down as you eat has such a profound impact on your dining experience and your well-being.  Between bites you might try putting down your fork. You may even try fully chewing your food, noticing all the flavors and textures that present themselves. This will further connect you to your meal, as well as your body’s signal of satiety.  By doing this you will begin to recognize and respect the limits of your body, and it’s always important regardless of what time of year to respect your body.

During the holidays, giving is receiving.  How about making a contribution to the decadent holiday buffet.  Typically, the spread is loaded with rich and heavy options that may leave you feeling fatigued and groggy.  You can always plan ahead and share more healthful options with others.  By bringing a dish that is a bit lighter than the other food choices, you create a healthful balance that is sure to leave you feeling satisfied and more in tuned with your body’s desires.

Finally, set an intention for your meal.  I do this with my program clients during lunch, and they feel that they get more out of the meal both emotionally and nutritionally.  Setting an intention is a common practice in yoga, which is a large part of our program at Inner Door Center.  Basically, you ask yourself what you want to get out of the experience today, at that moment.  Doing this during the meal allows for you to transfer that energy to the table, and allows you to decide how you want to give to yourself during each meal.  It is a large part in yoga to “live in every moment, both on and beyond the mat”, that even means during meal times.  Remember a meal doesn’t just feed you nutritionally, but emotionally as well.

Enjoy the holidays!

If you would like to learn more about incorporating mindfulness in your life, contact the Inner Door Center at 248-336-2868 for more information on our treatment programs or visit


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