Holiday Guidelines for Mindful Eating and Movement

By Katie Jeffrey, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN

2012-12-02 16.20.59Pequot Plant Farm in Stonington, CT

The holiday season is here. Decorating your home, buying and wrapping gifts, writing and sending holiday cards, attending parties, cooking and baking may be a few of the seasonal activities you enjoy. However, the colder weather, shorter days and delicious treats make it more challenging for many of us to eat as healthy or exercise as frequently as we would like. Make the decision this holiday season to NOT be a “typical” American whose health and fitness goals are discarded from October through December. With the right mindset and attitude you can continue to eat mindfully, move your body and enjoy yourself this holiday season!

Here are a few tips to help you succeed:

Be realistic. Set aside time to be physically active each week. Choose activities that are enjoyable and think outside the box. For example, walk a few extra laps around the mall while holiday shopping or go outside and play in the snow with your kids or grandkids.

Be a conscious or mindful eater. Stay tuned to your physical feeling of fullness and stop eating when satisfied or comfortably full. This takes practice so be patient as you relearn how to really listen to what your stomach is telling your brain. The more you listen to your body and honor your fullness cues, the more likely you will accomplish your health goals this holiday season and the better you will feel about yourself.

Do not deprive yourself. Enjoy your favorite holiday treats in moderation while simultaneously filling your plate the majority of the time with fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.

Have a different mind set this holiday season – enjoy your family and friends company first and the food as a pleasant accompaniment! People make the holidays a joyous time.

If you do have a setback, such as overindulging at a holiday party, don’t despair and don’t give up. One setback will not lead to weight gain. Use this step backward as a learning experience in order to reduce the likelihood that it will happen again. Ask yourself, “What triggered me to overeat?” Was it because you were stressed or eating mindlessly? Perhaps you went for seconds even though you were truly satisfied after your first helping. Then think of how you may have prevented overeating.

For example, arriving at the party, you may have felt ravenous, grabbed a plate, and quickly filled it with the first foods that looked tasty. At the end of the buffet table, you noticed your favorite side dish or dessert and after finishing your first portion you returned for a larger-than-normal helping. This put you “over the edge” resulting in you feeling “stuffed” and guilty.

Learn from this situation by thinking about how you might act differently at the next party. For instance, realize that arriving to a party hungry may not be a good idea because you are less likely to make healthy, reasonable food choices. A few hours before the next party, have a small, healthy snack such as yogurt and fruit or vegetables and hummus to take the “ravenous” edge off your hunger pangs. Then, at the party, you can try a small sampling of each food that looks delicious without going overboard. Viewing overeating experiences with a different mindset and learning from them will enable you to successfully adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors and feel positive about your relationship with food this holiday season.

If you happen to overindulge, do not skip your next meal to “make up” for the larger meal you ate the night before. Instead, enjoy a lower calorie meal consisting of leaner protein, more fruits and vegetables (the fiber will help you feel full), and try to increase your physical activity.

Practice these strategies this holiday season to maintain your weight and feel great about your decisions and yourself.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Katie Jeffrey, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, CDN is a licensed dietitian-nutritionist, a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD), a writer, and a licensed Facilitator of the Am I Hungry? ® mindful eating program. She owns her own business, FitNutrition, LLC in Stonington, CT. Katie is co-author of the upcoming book, “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Athletes: A Mindful Eating Program for Sports and Life.” She provides individual nutrition counseling, sports performance nutrition counseling for athletes and educational nutrition presentations on various topics for all age groups. Katie’s passion is mindful eating education. For more information about her services, call 860-917-6131 or go online to Join FitNutrition on Facebook:

Reference: Kostas, G.G. (2007). The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution. Good Health Press: Dallas, TX.

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