The average American gains 1 to 2 pounds each holiday season. While that might not sound like a lot (some news stories report figures as high as 10 pounds as the average), those couple pounds often become permanent, and year after year this relatively minor holiday weight gain can translate to an extra spare tire. And since virtually everyone’s New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, why start off the new year in a bigger hole than you need to?
So let’s talk about how to avoid digging yourself a bigger hole.
You need to start practicing Mindful Eating.
This is a skill that takes practice to cultivate, but once you get the hang of it the results will be profound.
“Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.”
This is the basic guiding principle of Mindful Eating. To shift your thinking away from the immediate but short-term reward of the taste of food, toward one that emphasizes the true reason we eat: to feel good and have energy.
Let’s role play a real life holiday scenario. You find yourself at a holiday party full of rich and delicious foods. There is a spread of cookies, cakes, brownies. There is flavorful dips and chips, candy and delicious drinks.
I can feel you salivating already.
Now, let’s think about the two outcomes of eating. First is taste. This pleasure is immediate, only experienced for the brief moment that you are in direct contact with the food in question. A few mere seconds or minutes after you finish eating, this pleasure is gone.
Sure, this pleasure has value, but the second half of eating is far more important.
The second half of eating is how the food makes you feel. We often don’t consider this when making decisions about what to eat, yet nothing has a greater impact on how we feel than what we put in our bodies.
“You don’t put the wrong kind of fuel in your car and expect it to run well without breaking down. Yet we do it all the time with food, with our bodies.”
To practice Mindful Eating, get in the habit of asking yourself this one question before you eat — “How will this make me feel.”
The answer to that question isn’t important in the early going: you are merely training yourself to consider the long-lasting effect of food when you decide what to eat.
When this question becomes habit, your food choices will change naturally. When you notice that the fuel you put in affects how well your body runs, you will start to crave better fuel. You are more motivated by feeling great than having a few seconds of mouth pleasure. Not to mention that healthy food can easily taste great as well!
Mindful Eating is a core skill of healthful eating, and I can’t think of a better time to start the practice than the holidays. You might just find that you indulge less frequently. And that will help the number on the scale to stay put this holiday season.
So, how will that extra cookie make you feel?