I was just on the phone with a friend talking about how fast this year has gone and what she has coming up.
End of school celebrations for the kids, preparing for holidays, catching up with friends, and of course, the all important Christmas drinks.
Do you get stressed about how you can enjoy yourself at social gatherings at this time of year but at the same time keep unwanted extra calories from those tempting plates of spring rolls, mini pizzas and pulled pork sliders at bay?
Do you eat so fast, so busy trying to keep up with conversations that you don’t even remember what you just grabbed off the nibblies plate?
Our brains really only like to focus on one thing at a time. But when you’re trying to keep up with the conversation, make sure you say goodbye to Tanya the Operations Manager before she heads off on holidays, and keeping an eye on the next plate of thai beef salad bowls that the waiter brings by, you’ll miss the subtle signs of fullness so you won’t stop until you feel uncomfortable or until the host runs out of food!
Most importantly, you won’t enjoy your food as much, so you have to have more to feel satisfied.
Eating is a natural, healthy, and pleasurable activity when it’s done in moderation. However, when you eat mindlessly or because you are stressed then eating is no longer that kind of activity.
The bottom line is that eating is not just a calories in / calories out equation. It’s also about how you eat.
The last ten or so years has brought research on mindfulness and its benefits, into the foreground. What we have learnt from experts is that eating slowly and savouring each bite or sip could actually be the remedy for weight management and bring about a decrease in the ever- expanding problem of obesity.
Mindful eating is not about diet or about giving up your favorite foods.
It’s about experiencing food more intensely – especially the pleasure of it. And social gatherings are often a chance to try different nibblies and starters that you wouldn’t normally try.
To practice mindful eating we use mindfulness, or being present, to cope with modern eating issues.
Again, it’s not a diet. There are no menus or restrictions. It is developing a new mindset around food.
Choosing to eat “mindfully,” in other words, giving food and eating your full attention, will allow you to have optimal satisfaction and enjoyment without eating to excess.
Mindful eating makes it possible for you to experience the difference between physical satisfaction and fullness. Mindful eating also allows you to feel more satisfied with smaller quantities of food. Learning to savour your food simply makes eating more pleasurable. Knowing what satisfies you and getting the most pleasure from your eating experiences are key factors for a lifetime of weight control.
Here are some simple Steps for Mindful Eating at social functions this holiday season
- Avoid going to functions when you’re starving.
- Recognise whether you’re hungry before you begin eating
- When you first arrive at a function choose food that will satisfy both your body and your mind. So, if you have the option perhaps choose the Vietnamese rolls before the deep fried spring rolls first.
- Take a few breaths and centre yourself before you begin grabbing from the waiters’ plate as he rushes by
- Appreciate the aroma and the appearance of your food.
- Pause in the middle of eating for at least two full minutes.
- Choose to give your full focus to your friend or colleague in conversation rather than keeping me eye on the fast-disappearing plate of mini-burgers
- Skip a round and say to the waitress that you’re going to wait for an option that has some fresh vegetables (and at the same time you’ll find out quickly if these options are even available at all)
- Notice how you feel when you’ve tried a couple of options and give attention to your feelings on being satiated.
In a nutshell, whether you are over eating at functions or being overly restrictive, it’s likely that you have lost track of your ability to notice your hunger and your fullness.
This break between your body and mind needs to be healed. Mindful eating at social functions or indeed anywhere can generally help in three ways:
1) Mindful eating plugs you back into your body’s cues so you know when to stop and start eating.
2) Being mindful can bring about better management of your emotions.
3) Mindfulness changes the way you think. Rather than reacting to food-related thoughts that urge you to overeat, try every starter, overly restrict your diet or emotionally eat, etc., you respond to them. You can hear these thoughts without obeying them.