9 Ways to Navigate Your Holiday Meals with Mindfulness and Ease

The holiday season is all about joyous celebrations.  It’s also a time when it is easier to overindulge even though we have the best of intentions. We all want to validate family cooking.  Many families feel very strongly about the adage of “cleaning your plate.”  There are ways to steer through the meals, feel satisfied and enjoy  your time with friends and family!

  1. Never Arrive Hungry. Eat breakfast and lunch, just like any other day. Don’t starve yourself before the meal because it will just leave you famished, and you’ll be more likely to eat the first appetizers you see and potentially overeat. Try to have a nutritious snack before you arrive. If you do arrive hungry, drink some water to help you fill-up.  Remember how successful you have been this far!


  1. Find The Veggies First. If it’s a buffet, wander around before putting anything on your plate. If you’re at a table, look at everything.  Check out all your options. You will be less inclined to pile on too many things. Before reaching for the tempting sweetened and high carb food, look for the veggies and the protein. Fill your plate with a rainbow of vegetables. These are high volume foods that will help fill you.  Then look for the lean protein or fish.  Take a small amount of stuffing, rice or other carbs for a bite or two. This is a great tip for an any day, but especially the holidays.


  1. Drink Water or Tea. The body often mistakes thirst with hunger, be hydrated and start drinking plenty of water starting the day before. During your meal choose water or sparkling water over sodas and alcohol. Stay away from fruit juices or anything sweetened. If you want to have a glass of wine, think in advance when you will enjoy it most, with the appetizers or at dinner time and choose water or tea the rest of the day. You can also use this opportunity to take one of your favorite teas along.


  1. Don’t Deprive Yourself. Deprivation can lead to eating too much later!  You can still enjoy your favorite food; the key is moderation.  First, eat some fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth after dinner.  You don’t have to avoid dessert altogether. Eat the fruit first and then have a small piece or taste of pie!  Be choosy about the sweets and choose one dessert and have a small piece or a couple of desserts and just have a couple bites of each.  There’s a saying that comes to mind: Taste and waste so it doesn’t go to your waist!


  1. Make a Healthy Delicious Recipe. If you are cooking, choose healthy and sensible recipes that you enjoy. To show family and friends that you really care about them, be creative with recipes that use less butter, cream, lard, vegetable shortening, and other ingredients rich in saturated fats and cholesterol. Make turkey or fish instead of red meat.  Prepare the food, that is delicious, comforting and good for you. Cauliflower is a great substitute for mashed potatoes. Sweet potatoes don’t require marshmallows or tons of butter. You can easily cook any veggie with veggie broth, adding some herbs and garlic. For cranberry sauce make it with Stevia instead of sugar and transform it into  cranberry salad. One great tip is to avoid eating the turkey skin or avoid the turkey completely! If you are offering a vegan menu, you can be creative and replace meat with many vegan meat substitutes, fruits and vegetables.


  1. Pace Yourself and Savor Each Bite. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize you’re full. Chew a bit slower than normal and take smaller bites.    Really enjoy it as it took a lot of time and love to cook it!  By chewing and swallowing one bite at a time, you eat more slowly and allow your body to process the food you’ve just consumed. This helps you better determine when you are full and prevents overeating. You will find that you will become full and that second helping might not be so tempting! Leave the table or remove your plate once you finish eating. If possible, move to another room and chat and play with family and friends.


  1. Stay Mindful and Thankful. Express gratitude while eating. A mindful eating experience means nourishing your body while providing a satisfying experience for your brain.  Be aware of and grateful for each part of your healthy meal. Notice the color, smell, flavor and texture of your food.  Share about the healthy choices that you are making and give thanks for them and the opportunity to spend time with friends and family. Acknowledge the time and effort everyone put into preparing the food. Pay attention to what really matters to you. Yes, food is a fundamental part of holiday celebrations, put your focus on family and friends, laughter and merriment.


  1. Initiate An Activity. The holidays are about spending quality time together as family and friends. Make a new holiday tradition and weather permitting, go for a walk in the neighborhood or shoot hoops. This will help burn some calories and create memories.  Take photos and make some fun poses to remember the day! Stay away from the TV, it’s not quality time together.  Be creative. Start a “Charade”\or “Jenga” game.  Keep the kids active by playing soccer or a family dance contest. There are also tabletop and card games that can keep you active and away from the buffet table and leftovers!


  1. Wear A Special Outfit. If you wear stretchy clothes or drawstring pants, you’re going to feel comfortable, but you’ll also forget about what you’ve worked hard to achieve!  Wear a new outfit or something you love that you haven’t been able to get into until now. This will help as a reminder of how successful you have been and help you overcome challenges that arise.


If  you’re hosting the holiday, at the end of the socializing you can graciously give the food back to the people who brought it or take it to a homeless shelter.  It’s best to simply remove the temptation of eating the leftovers, especially the desserts or high carb side dishes.

As long as the leftovers are available, you will feel an urge to finish them. Most of us have been programmed to "finish our plate" and not waste food. Ignore these urges and simply dispose of it so that you can go back to your healthy routine. Enjoy your celebration and the blessings of the day!


Dr. Donna Goldstein, a 25-year veteran psychologist and Certified Health Coach, teaches a new way to eat and a new way to live, that can help you break the cycle of “yo-yo” dieting for good.  She has maintained her own 70 lb. weight loss for over 10 years and has helped her clients lose thousands of pounds with no drugs or surgery! She helps people worldwide.

You can learn more about Dr. Goldstein at Text or call 954.292.8477 for your Weight Loss / Free Lifestyle Plan.

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