If You’re Going to Indulge, Do It MINDFULLY!

Yesterday we admitted to ourselves that we WILL eat that piece of cake.

And that’s OK!!!

In order to live a fulfulling life, treating ourselves once in awhile, as long as we are eating healthy and enjoying movement and social activities, is very important! The answer is enjoying everthing in moderation and most importantly, taking the time to fully appreciate what you are eating (or doing for that matter).

You may have heard of “Mindfulness Practice” at some point. Basically, it’s being fully present and attentive to each moment, taste, and sensation to get the most out of what you’re indulging in.

The true testament to the power of food goes beyond any sensory gratification to the feelings of love and togetherness it evokes. Yet, it seems so easy to overlook the deeper pleasures of the table amid the hectic holiday swirl.

By encouraging you to let go of stressors and enjoy the food you’re eating, mindfulness can help you make the most of your food choices, paving the way for truly appreciating and savoring them.

1. Inhale and exhale.
“I used to get so sick of people telling me to breathe in and out, but now I realize there is deep, neurological stuff going on,” a practioner mused. “This is why every meditation tradition focuses so obsessively on the breath: Slow, deep, even breathing tells the brain stem to put the entire brain into a state of calm.” Take five deep in-and-out breaths after you sit down at the table and before you lift your fork.

2. Give thanks.
The parts of your brain that are associated with gratitude and appreciation cannot operate when there is stress. But the good news is the reverse is also true: If you’re focused on gratitude, the stress can’t take over. Gratitude stops addictive patterns in the brain. After your five deep breaths, allow yourself a moment of gratitude, silent reflection, or prayer for the food you are about to eat.

3. All food is good.
Remove “good” and “bad” from your food vocabulary. You can’t completely enjoy a piece of cake if you’re telling yourself it is bad for you. There is no such thing as a bad or wrong food. If you get rid of the judgmental language around food, it becomes less stressful. When making food decisions, try replacing “I should” or “I shouldn’t” with “I choose to.”

4. Replay frustrating situations.
When you do find yourself mindlessly eating or reacting to stress by reaching for something sweet or salty (it does happen to everyone), forgive yourself and move on. Because we tend to remember what we did wrong, it helps to replay it in your mind with a different outcome. It’s a way of rehearsing that behavior so it replicates more easily. Instead of mentally putting yourself through the ringer, replay the situation in your head again. You went overboard with the cheese board or the cocktail bar, and you’re unhappy. Replay the scenario, only this time you’re taking a bite or sip, enjoying it slowly, and truly savoring every flavor.

5. Enjoy what’s on your plate.
Never eat anything you don’t enjoy, and truly enjoy everything you eat. Take the first four bites of your meals slowly and with full attention on the food: Savor the flavors and textures so that you can begin to understand what mindful eating feels like. Also, putting your fork down between bites gives you the time to fully appreciate your treat/meal.

Today’s Tip:

Now that you know how to eat mindfully, especially during the holidays when so many wonderful, seasonal goodies are readily available, at work, parties, even Starbucks has specials to include wondeful holiday flavors. Complete denial not only isn’t realistic, it can lead to overindulging and regret later. SELECTIVELY indulge and enjoy the season – you deserve it!

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