5 Tips for Mindful Eating During the Holidays
Brittyn Coleman
By Brittyn Coleman

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Did you know that the average American gains around a pound between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Research also shows that already overweight or obese adults can gain even 5 pounds during the holidays. Since one pound of fat generally equals about 3,500 calories – a weight gain of 5 pounds means that there is a surplus of nearly 20,000 calories consumed during the holidays! Unfortunately, some studies show that weight gain during the holidays is not commonly reversed.


The main causes of holiday weight gain are typically a combination of (1) the consumption of high-fat and high-calorie foods that are prepared as a part of our American holiday culture (2) social eating, typically past your “full point” and (3) colder temperatures leading to decreased outdoor activity. In theory, weight gain during the holidays may seem to be inevitable, but by introducing mindfulness, you can increase your self-control and stick to a healthful diet that works best for your body. Use the following tips to help keep you on track during the holiday season.

1. Reflect before you eat each meal (or even better - before you put food on your plate!).
  • How you are feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally? Are any negative emotions causing you to eat?
  • Are you truly hungry, or are you eating out of boredom?
  • How did you feel after your last meal? Did any foods make you feel sick, bloated, or sluggish? Choose foods that you know make your body feel its best.
  • Think about the nutrients and ingredients that go into each dish. Mentally deconstruct each dish if it helps you! Which dishes would best serve your body?
2. Think about what your body could be telling you.
  • Are you craving food? What type of nutrients could your body be craving? If you ate 4 Hawaiian rolls last meal, maybe your body is craving some nutrients or fiber! Think about adding some greens to your plate, and maybe some plant-based or lean protein, too!
  • Could you be thirsty? When was the last time you drank water? Drink a glass of cool water before you eat to make sure your body is not dehydrated.
3. Choose the smaller plate.
  • Our eyes are often larger than our stomach. Choose the smaller plate and get smaller portions to start. If you feel your body is still hungry after your first plate, take a moment to reflect, and then go back to get a few additional small portions until you are satisfied. We often get a larger serving than we truly need, and then we feel the need to clean our plate!
4. Put down your utensil.
  • Every two to three bites set down your fork or spoon and fully enjoy and taste the food you are eating. We often get so consumed by the repetitive act of eating, we end up scarfing our food down without giving our bodies to process what has been eaten. By slowing down the consumption of your meal, you will also end up eating less since your stomach is able to have the time to tell your brain you are full and to stop eating.
5. Minimize distractions.
  • Put away your cell phone, turn off the TV, and turn down (or off!) the music. Distracting yourself during mealtime can cause you to ignore your body’s signals to stop eating. Besides, the holiday season is all about relationships and your family, take the time to be fully present and enjoy your meal together!
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