It is certainly fall, and soon it will be winter. It's during the winter season that our bodies experience a movement toward groundedness. In many ways, this is expressed through food: more hot foods and meats in your daily diet, hearty soups, larger and heavier meals overall. I see this as a beautiful example of an innate desire to create balance between the internal and external.
But without mindfulness during the holidays, this desire commonly turns into habitual overeating and eventual discomfort or excess weight. Aside from the resulting New Year's resolution, this can also trigger negative thoughts and emotions toward ourselves, which only takes us out of the moment and further down the rabbit hole.
The key to avoiding a surprising post-holiday weigh-in is not a matter of drastic dieting or an overzealous exercise regimen. Rather, I propose that we turn our focus toward the lifestyle shifts that will keep us from tipping the proverbial scale: regular introspection, responding only to our most genuine needs, and remembering that we aren't in a hurry. After all, the one sure thing about holiday meals is that there are always leftovers!
Get a head start on mindfulness this holiday season! Begin applying these five practices today, and dive into your holiday celebrations with greater confidence.
Before making your plate, take a moment for a deep breath and a check-in. By asking yourself, “What am I actually hungry for?” you may find that the genuine need which stands to be filled is not physical hunger at all. Are you bored and hungry for an adventure? Are you in a moment of loneliness and needing emotional fulfillment? Or perhaps you’ve been stressed and food offers a euphoric relief. It's more common than we realize for these feelings to become intertwined and mistaken for physical hunger. But the gift of taking this conscious moment is that our “foods” become far more fulfilling when in response to the true craving.
2. Express your gratitude.
It’s not only easy, but it can feel blissful to dive into a gleaming and seductive holiday buffet. But why not take a mindful dive? Pause to connect to your feelings of abundance or excitement, and offer your thanks for the experience. This practice creates a richer experience, serving as a reminder to appreciate and savor the meal more profoundly.
3. Slow down.
An effect of the moment you took to give thanks, to slow down, even put your fork down between bites, will further connect you to your meal, and to your body’s messages of satiety. And as you slowly begin to recognize and respect your body’s limits, you'll watch and feel the benefits unfold around you.
4. Make a contribution.
As the holiday table is usually mounted with heavier, perhaps not-so-healthy options, you can plan ahead and create an additional, more healthful option or two. Bring a dish that you know you can enjoy guilt free; it will take up space on your plate and help you avoid other items that your waistline is not so fond of.
5. Set your intention.
In yoga, each day’s practice begins with an intention. We ask ourselves who we want to be in this experience today, right now, in this moment. You can transfer that energy to the table and decide how you want to show up for yourself during each meal. Remember that yoga is in the living of every moment, both on and beyond the mat.