8 Tips for Mindful Eating through the Holiday Season

With the holiday season right around the corner, we are surrounded with celebrations centered around food. This time of the year is full of temptation, and it can be hard not to indulge in a feast. It can be a very daunting task to keep track on your fitness goal, whether it is to lose weight, prevent/ manage chronic diseases, or to be healthier in general. A study from New England Journal of Medicine¹ found that the average American gains 1 to 3 pounds during the holiday season. While this does not seem like a lot, the study found that the additional weight gain were kept throughout the following year.

Now, this does not mean that you have to skip all of your holiday tradition — just eat it in moderation and be mindful of what you put into your body. Mindfulness includes paying attention, being fully aware of what is happening both inside and outside yourself — in your body, heart and mind — and outside yourself, in your environment. Mindfulness is awareness without criticism or judgement. Thus, eating mindfully involves fully immersing yourself in the dining experience — the color, aroma, flavor, texture, temperature, mouthfeel of the food you are eating.

Here, we wrapped up 8 tips to eat mindfully during the Holiday so you can enjoy some amazing and stress-free time with your loved ones:

1. Control your portion size

It’s so easy to overeat when you are faced with an abundance of food served buffet-style every holiday soiree. The key is to mindful eating is to eat in moderation.

One handy tips is to use a smaller plate. Study suggests that using smaller plates can help reduce consumption for self-serve meals ².

2. Have a game plan

From gift-giving to traveling to see your friends and family, the holiday season can be a stressful time for a lot of people. Some of us may seek comfort in food when anxiety strikes, which makes a lot of sense because eating releases dopamine (aka the feel-good hormone) in our brain³. Before you engorge in the holiday feasts, take a moment to get to learn about yourself and your triggers — reflect on when and where you feel that food is controlling your life, not the other way around. Finally, find some ways to de-stress that does not involve food.

Have a balance — use the 80/20 rule: eat nutritious food 80% of the time and for the other 20%, give yourself some room to indulge a little. So for the day of the holidays, allow yourself to have the holiday favorites you can’t live without — and go back to eating healthy for the rest of the week. Pro tip: plan ahead your week in advance and prep your meals using Eatlove during your 80% days so you don’t fall off the wagon.

3. Pay attention to what you are eating

As you partake in these once-a-year holiday specialties, allow yourself to truly enjoy your meal. Chew your meal slowly and use all of your senses to savor every bite you take. Free yourself from distraction and focus on the meal in front of you and the people you are sharing it with. By doing this, you are truly aware when your body is telling your brain that you are full.

4. Listen to your body

During the holiday season, we tend to have an (over)abundance of food. It can be so tempting to go to the kitchen and check your fridge every hour to find something to munch on solely because you are bored. The next time you do this, stop yourself and check if you are truly hungry. If turns out it’s your eyes that’s hungry, take a walk for a few minutes or chew a gum instead. A recent study found that chewing gum can give you the feeling of satiety and may reduce afternoon snacking . Another tip is to drink a glass of water when you feel hungry as we sometimes mistaken our body’s cue for thirst as hunger.

5. Hydrate and alternate between drinks

Treat water as your best friend! Alternate between alcoholic drink and water at holiday parties to pace yourself as alcohol contains a lot of empty calories. This good old tip helps to prevent your next-morning hangover too, as excess alcohol consumption can cause dehydration.

6. Eat regularly (do not skip meals)

Don’t starve yourself in anticipation of the holiday feast! Studies have found that skipping meals most likely will result in overeating and the tendency to make a bad decision. Instead, start your morning with a healthy and filling breakfast so you have more energy to fuel your day.

7. Wait before second portions

Before you scoop a second helpings to your plate, second-guess yourself whether or not you are still hungry. Wait about 15–20 minutes after your first plate before you decide if you really want that second serving.

8. Ditch the guilt

This is the most important takeaway: don’t beat yourself up if you ate more than what you had planned. Allow yourself some wiggle room — it is the holiday, after all! Don’t take out the enjoyment of this joyful season by sweating out the little stuff. Just kick back and have a good time with your loved ones.

Need some inspo? Check out our Thanksgiving dinner plan

With EatLove, we take out the guesswork out of meal-planning for you, so you can spend more time enjoying the food you love with friends and family. We curate personalized meal plans that fit your dietary needs, preference, and lifestyle.


¹ Yanovski, J.A., Yanovski, S.Z., Sovik, K.N., Nguyen, T.T., O’Neil, P.M., Sebring, N.G. (2000, March). A prospective study of holiday weight gain. N Engl J Med. 342(12):861–7. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?cmd=retrieve&list_uids=10727591&dopt=AbstractPlus

² Holden, S.S., Zlatevska, N., Dubelaar, C. (2016, January). Whether Smaller Plates Reduce Consumption Depends on Who’s Serving and Who’s Looking: A Meta-Analysis. J Assoc Consum Res. 2016;1(1):134–46. Retrieved October 19, 2017, from http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/684441

³ Radhakishun, F.S., van Ree, J.M., Westerink, B.H. (1988). Scheduled eating increases dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens of food-deprived rats as assessed with on-line brain dialysis. Neuroscience Letters. 85 (3): 351–6. Retrieved October 19, 2017, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0304394088905915

⁴ Park, E., Edirisinghe, I., Inui, T., Kergoat,S., Kelley M., Burton-Freeman, B. (2016, May) Short-term effects of chewing gum on satiety and afternoon snack intake in healthy weight and obese women. Physiol Behav. 159:64–71. Retrieved October 19, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26948161

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