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Eating more mindfully during the busy Holidays...

Holiday buffet from

Company parties, executive dinners, holiday hors d'oeuvres and drinks...The crazy holiday celebrations that load your calendar can also load the extra calories and contribute to the typical American 5 pound holiday weight gain. While on this yearly epicurean Merry-Go-Round binge-fest you might be screaming, "Stop! Let me off this thing!" while simultaneously saying, "But I think I'll take another spin..." because you just want to have one more bite of that creamy shrimp dip or that decadent seven-layer torte... Sound familiar?

Now I'm NOT going to tell you you can't have those delectable holiday delights, because complete restriction often backfires. BUT I will tell you that you can have (some of ) your cake and eat it too! The Co-Founder of Precision Nutrition, John Berardi, PhD, talks about his family tradition of making delicious Christmas cookies--the REAL thing, no healthier substitutions allowed. He encourages us all to join him: "Enjoy some sort of cookie, cake, or cocktail this holiday season too. Even more: Sing songs, make friends, share love, play, and bask in holiday cheer." And he goes on to explain his WHY... It makes complete sense, and he's sensible about it.

But that being said, it's still important to have PERSPECTIVE and a few helpful tips and tricks to keep your holiday eating from becoming a continuous month long binge-fest.

The most important thing to remember is to BE MINDFUL. You can still enjoy your favorite occasional indulgences, but in moderation. It’s all about being mindful of what you eat, eating slowly, savoring every bite.

Here are some tips toward a more mindful approach from the American Heart Association:

  • Control portions. Especially during the holidays, know that you’ll have more opportunities to eat festive snacks and desserts. You don’t have to deprive yourself, just eat smaller portions and less often.

  • Eat when you’re hungry. Just because the clock says noon doesn’t mean you have to eat. If you’re not hungry, wait until you are – just don’t wait until you’re famished because you might overeat. Also, don’t eat just because the food is available. Learn more about why you might be eating when not hungry.

  • Plan. Prepare healthy snacks throughout the day. If you tend to get hungry between meals, bring along a 200-calorie, whole grain, high-fiber snack. Fiber keeps you feeling full longer. Learn how a little planning helps your heart, and your budget.

  • Slow down. Enjoy each bite and put your fork down while chewing, then take a drink between each bite. This gives your body enough time to trigger your brain that you are satisfied (not necessarily full).

  • Pay attention. Do not eat in front of the TV or computer, or while standing in the kitchen or talking on the phone. When you do these things, you’re more likely to lose track of how much you’ve eaten.

  • Use technology. As we continue to become increasingly distracted by modern technology, our focus on health can fall to the back burner. But it doesn’t have to be that way. “We can actually use our smartphones and other electronic devices to help us,” said Platt, a volunteer with the American Heart Association. “There are now apps that manage food records, count calories, help you track what you eat and even provide guidance on healthy food choices at the grocery store and restaurants.”

  • Keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat, look at it, then identify why you ate it – was it hunger, stress, boredom? Then look for areas you can make adjustments and incorporate healthy changes. “Keeping a food diary is really key to awareness,” Platt said. “Most people are surprised at all they’ve consumed when they review what they’ve eaten.

These are GREAT TIPS and they work! It is about BALANCE. Enjoy what really matters to you during the holidays.

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