Mindful Eating During Thanksgiving And Beyond

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Canadian Thanksgiving is going to be celebrated with gusto this weekend! Children have been gearing up for this holiday by preparing table decorations. Recipes have been pinned or bookmarked. Arrangements have been made about who is hosting and what dishes are being served. In other words, we’ve been talking about this one dinner for a few weeks now. And while there is excitement in the crisp fall air for family and friends to gather around one table, anxiety is a side dish that, for some, can accompany big dinners. Mindful eating can feel un-achievable during the most gluttonous of holidays!

To help you feel satisfied, comfortable, and on track with your mindful eating goals, we’ve put together 6 tips that will carry you from the turkey carving through trick or treating, Christmas dinners and into a healthy new year. Have a read and share with us in the comments your tried and true tips!

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1. Don’t save yourself for the big dinner! It’s common for people to think that if they eat less earlier in the day, they’ll be able to transfer the unconsumed calories to the feast without any consequence. The problem with that is, by the time the table is set with the turkey and trimmings it’s hard to resist putting everything (in large quantities) on your plate. Instead, eat sensibly throughout the day as you normally would. Fuel yourself and keep your blood sugar level constant so that you can make appropriate choices about the dishes you want to eat and the portion you want to consume.

2. Decide what the special foods are that you truly want to taste and savour. Don’t deny yourself the taste of the holiday treats, whether it’s the garlic mashed potato recipe that only comes out on big days, or the jalebi that Chachi makes like no one else. To balance that out, ask yourself what are the foods you don’t necessarily need to eat with that meal because a) they’re not your favourite and b) they can be found at the table on other occasions? Like dinner rolls or papadum. Mindful eating is so much about the choices you make by paying attention to what is in front of you and what you truly want from a meal.

3. Eat slowly and really enjoy each bite. Again, if you aren’t keeling over with hunger, you are in better shape to control the speed with which you put food in your mouth. Take a bite and put your utensil down. Chew your food. Take a sip of water if you need to. Ask your cousin how her new job is going. Then fill your fork with a reasonable amount and take another bite. Doing this allows you to actually taste your food; your brain perceives the deliciousness only when the food is actually in your mouth. Savour that experience!

4. Wait a couple of minutes before going back for seconds. In that time, ask yourself if you are truly hungry. This is really hard because if a special food is only available a few times a year, we want to take advantage of that which results in eating when we actually don’t need to. Is it possible to save some as leftovers? We bet Chachi would be thrilled to hear how much you love her jalebi and would love to take a little bit home for the next day. But if you are full, honour that. Know that there is always tomorrow and that you will enjoy the rest of the evening better if you aren’t feeling uncomfortably full.

5. Put your plate away when you’re done. That way you won’t be tempted to nibble mindlessly as you participate in the rest of the dinner conversation. If it’s awkward to get up and put your dish in the kitchen while people are still eating, simply push your plate away from you to tell yourself you are full. Respect the culture of your family and decide what would work best in this situation.

6. Remember, Thanksgiving is about more than just the meal! Have another activity to do whether that means bringing a deck of cards, a board game, a craft to do with the kids or an arsenal of interesting stories to share. Catch up with your family and create memories. And step away from the dining table when you do it!

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We hope these tips help you through Thanksgiving and beyond. Mindful eating can be practiced year-round for satisfied and happy tummies!

Taslim combines her love of writing and social change by telling the stories that build bridges among people. Her motivating forces are her 3 children and her INFJ personality. She has romantic notions of travelling the world and writing in quaint European countrysides and historic African towns, but her favourite place to be is home with her family. There you will find her reading, cooking, refereeing squabbles and writing bios for freelance gigs.