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Supportive and non-judgmental advice from SBCHC's health experts.

Mindful Holiday Eating Hints: Staying Focused on What Really Matters

By: Alyssa Principe

As the holidays roll in, many people look forward to familiar traditions, spending time with family or friends, and of course the food. To “save room” for the holiday feast, many will skimp on breakfast or skip lunch the day of. This usually results in grazing on endless appetizers before sitting down for the main meal full of delicious food. Music is playing, you are talking with friends, and before you know it you have cleaned your plate and you are beyond stuffed. Dessert comes and of course you want some. You leave lethargic, too full, maybe feeling guilty and making promises to yourself not to overeat again! This repeats itself throughout the holiday season declaring that your “diet” starts January 1st. Sound familiar? I hear this from my patients, family and friends every year.

With this experience, the holidays may come with heightened anxiety around food and weight. To end the holidays feeling better than when they started, I encourage you to try something different this holiday season: eat what you’d like. The more you try to limit your food this holiday, the more likely you will be to overeat (this applies to all year as well). This restrictive mindset almost always ends in overindulging and ultimately contributes to holiday weight gain. This season, instead of counting your calories, keep your focus on enjoying your food, friends and family.

Here are my tips for feeling your best post holiday season:

1. Don’t skip meals to save room for holiday food. Have a balanced breakfast and lunch and a small snack before the party so you arrive feeling comfortably hungry but not ravenous.

2. Slow down to savor your food. Taking the time to focus on and enjoy the foods you look forward will ensure that you leave the table feeling better than you did when you sat down, instead of overstuffed.

3. Focus on your favorite foods, and don’t feel the need (or the pressure!) to take ones that you don’t enjoy.

4. Are the holidays all about the food? It might be an important part, but consider what else is significant to you this season. What are you truly hoping to get out of the holidays?

5. Find healthy (non-food related) behaviors that make you feel good. Food is often a short-term solution to boosting mood. Instead, try:

● Forms of movement you enjoy

● Establishing & maintaining sleep patterns

● Writing in a gratitude journal

● Talking to a friend who brings joy every day/week/etc.

The holidays are a time to celebrate, so don’t get caught up in food preoccupation that can interfere with your festivities. Enjoy your food along with your company to help you feel your best!

Alyssa Principe

Alyssa Principe, MS, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietician at South Boston Community Health Center. She runs the free Healthy Habits Support Group and sees patients of all ages at the Health Center. She works with patients of all ages on a variety of goals, from healthy and weight issues, to picky eating. If you're interested in learning more stay tuned for her recipes and helpful tips or make an appointment to see her in clinic today!