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Seven mindful tips for holiday eating



1. Recognize your triggers:

  • Be aware of the social pressure, your emotions, and your body's sensations. For example: “You won’t love me unless you eat it.” “Holidays are about eating and feeling full.” “I feel guilty if I don’t eat from what my mom/partner/etc. cooked.”

  • Say out loud the hidden meaning of the patterns. For example: “I appreciate your efforts for making this food, I feel your love and care, but my body says no to more food. I am happy to have your care in another way.”

  • Praise the host, the chef instead of the food. What is the recipe? How did you make it?

  • Do quick check-ins: before eating, before the next serving, and before the next course


2. Make conscious choices

  • Allow yourself to enjoy instead of being guilty

  • Acknowledge that it might be a special time and special food. It’s not an everyday situation and you can eat differently than how you’d normally do and that’s OK. Think about which things are the most special to you. Which one do you want to give yourself permission to enjoy during this time of the year? What deeper meaning do they have for you? (Comfort, care, love, etc.)

  • Acknowledge that you have a choice around what, when, and how much you want to eat.

  • Eat slowly and savor the food.

  • Keep the food longer on your plate, before you decide to continue eating it.


3. Say no

  • Say no to meals, a second serving, or a certain type of food if you feel like it.

  • Set boundaries: skip a course, go for a walk, take a nap and get comfortable saying no. Say natural consequences: “I gonna feel overstuffed, discomfort or my belly will hurt if I eat that. Thank you, I appreciate it and I’m fine for now.”

  • Be aware that the holidays might be more intense with other types of consumption as well: it’s not just your belly that can feel overwhelmed, but your mental capacity, your feelings’ tank, and your sensory experiences can feel overloaded too. Consider saying no to these ‘meals’ too when needed.


4. Change meal traditions

  • Share moments of gratitude before the meal and/or during the day

  • Create new rituals, and go on a Christmas hike!

  • Decorate plates and tables, and feed your senses in other ways too.

  • Emphasize other parts of the dining, introduce ceremonies

  • Do a meal in potluck-style

  • What are the holiday traditions in your family? What do you like about them? What do you want to change about them?


5. Slow down

  • “It tastes so good, I can’t stop”. Before the next bite, share with others what do you like in the food. What nice memories does it bring up? What are the

  • Slow down and savor the meals

  • Give other pleasures to the body too: sensual, the touch of the soft blanket, watching the fire, smelling a flower, making love, hugging, laughing, taking a walk in nature, getting the body moving

  • Move away the food when you’re done, don’t be around all the time


6. Be as you are

  • Connect with people whose companion nourishes you

  • Acknowledge that triggers of loneliness, anxiety, and despair, and other negative emotions during holidays are OK

  • Be as you are: What is the mental conversation in you about cheerfulness and happiness that I ‘should’ be?


7. Be easy with expectations

  • Zoom out. Avoid overemphasizing the importance of the holidays. You don’t have to feel 100% cheerful or eat perfectly during it. How do you want to behave? “Let’s see how it will go. I can be less mindful during this week, it’s OK.”

  • Out of your routine, you might eat more, can feel more, and do things differently and that’s natural.

  • Visualize yourself being, behaving, eating, and spending the holidays in a way that you do want instead of what you are afraid of!


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