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Eat carefully at parties, potlucks

December 13, 2018
Amanda Bohlen , MOV Parent

The time of year is upon us when parties and potlucks are at an all-time high. I find myself going from one event to the next praying that I can make it through the event without overindulging. Have you ever started eating something and then realized it was all gone and you don't remember eating more than a couple of bites? Many people operate on auto-pilot when they eat. Mindless, or distracted, eating is a common problem that many people face.

Sometimes it's hard to remember to be mindful when we eat. Being mindful will give us a better awareness of our thoughts, feelings and actions when it comes to eating. I've noticed that when I'm mindful I'm more aware of my internal and external cues that control my eating decisions. Sometimes my cues are physical like my stomach rumbling or feeling lightheaded/dizzy. Other times I am an emotional eater like when I've had a stressful or difficult day, I find chocolate. Today it was super cold outside so rather then my cold sandwich for lunch, I needed a hot bowl of soup. When it comes to holiday parties there are certain smells that I can't resist.

The Center for Mindful Eating have several different principles when it comes to mindful eating. Two of them are very important to remember during the holidays.

Using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.

Becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating. When it comes to holiday parties, it can be very easy to get distracted and fall into the mindless eating trap. The American Heart Association shares some great tips to practice mindful eating.

Control portions

Eat when you're hungry


Slow down

Pay attention

Use technology

Keep a food diary

Picking up a bite or two off a buffet table can be dangerous. It's hard to remember how many pieces you've taken or how many trips up to the table you've made. Instead, get a plate and decide what and how much you are going to eat. Also, try to focus on your senses while you eat at holiday parties. Can you describe what you ate in detail? What did it smell like? Can you remember how it felt in your mouth? How did it taste? Were there specific spices in the food? Was it hot or cold? Were there vibrant colors? Did you chew the food thoroughly? Can you remember exactly when you felt full? If you struggle to answer these questions then take the time to slow down and truly enjoy your food. One thing I have found to be most helpful is using technology to keep a food diary. There are many apps that you can download to keep track of your calorie intake. I question a food item more if I know I'm being held accountable by tracking my calories, fat or carbohydrate count. If you decide you would rather write down your food diary, you can do that and make comments about how you were feeling when you ate certain foods.

Interested in becoming more mindful when you eat? I encourage you to read Dr. Carolyn Dunn's article Mindful Versus Mindless Eating. In the last paragraph she walks you through an exercise of being mindful while eating a raisin. She has you really become aware of all your senses. Give it a try and see how it works out for you. I encourage you to eat:

Without distractions

Sitting down

Slowly and enjoy every bite

Each meal for at least 20 minutes or longer



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