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Find Joy with Mindful Eating this Holiday Season

Updated: Jul 8, 2022

Dana Eshelman, MS, RDN

The holiday season is here! This time of year brings so much joy with the lights, colors, and cheer. However, it can also bring stress, anxiety and overwhelm around nutrition choices, family gatherings, and traditions. You can handle this time of year with ease if you have the right skills to call on when the holidays begin to throw you parties, family meals + outings, traditional foods, holiday cocktails and fun foods!

Mindful eating allows you to take a self-care approach to this scenarios and in your nutrition choices so you can enjoy this holiday and keep your sanity and nutrition in check.

Here are some mindful eating tips to follow this holiday:

1) Be consistent in your routine. Do not feel that you need to significantly alter your routine. If you normally wake up at 7am and that is when you feel best, maintain your normal wake up time. Think about routines that you have and that you enjoy. Make these non-negotiables over the holidays and stick with them.

2) Practice stress management with your nutrition choices. Choose foods that contain nutrients such as vitamin C, zinc, B vitamins, magnesium, and calcium as these can be depleted as the body undergoes stress. Adding lots of color on your plate can help you reach these goals!

3) Focus on nutrient density to keep your energy and metabolism high. Add lean protein and fiber-rich foods to your plate for each meal. Try to make at least half of your plate vegetables and include 1-2 servings of fruit per day.

4) Move your body in a way you love. Find enjoyment in activity daily for 30 minutes or more. Perhaps this is taking a walk with your family or, if you are like me, a walk before everyone wakes in the morning to have "you time."

5) Stay hydrated. Water is a very underrated nutrition need! It is the prime nutrient to transport nutrients to and from cells and rid our bodies of toxins. It also plays a role in improving energy levels and decreasing cravings. Aim for half of your weight in ounces of water each day!

6) Mindfully eat rather than stressing about calories. Focus on the meal in front of you, the nutrients it brings (both to your body + soul), and the people you are eating with. Ask what flavors and textures are present in the food. Try slowly chewing and setting your fork down between bites.

7) Snack before parties on nutrient dense choices, so you do not have the tendency to over-indulge at holiday parties. One of my favorite snacks is 1/2 c greek yogurt + 1 T nut butter + 1/2 c frozen berries.

8) Have fun with family. Schedule local festive outings, make a meal together, partake in family traditions, try to volunteer at a local super kitchen. This is what the holidays are about after all!

9) Do not overly restrict calories in oversight for the "big meal." This can cause overeating and create more stress around food. Be aware of your energy needs and allow all foods to be a part of your nutrition. Choosing larger portions of the foods that will provide nourishment to your body (fruits, veggies, protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats) and smaller portions of the foods that provide nourishment to your soul (sweet treats and fun foods).

10) Most important: DO YOU! It is easy to get caught up in the holiday shuffle. As I mention above, find your non-negotiable activities + routines and stick with it! Carve some time out for your mental health + wellness, however that may look for you.

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