10 Top tips to beat the bloat this Christmas
Updated: Dec 13, 2020
Holidays and indulging seem to go hand in hand - it is something we all love to do! With parties, catch-ups, and get-togethers quickly filling up our calendar, being mindful about what we eat can often take a backseat to indulging in one more mince pie... So whether you are wanting to prevent yourself from overeating, are trying to manage a health condition, or are worried about gaining those extra holiday kilos, practicing mindful eating habits is something that can help to keep you on track, not only for the holiday season but all year round - saving you from adding that crash diet to your New Year's resolution list!
Many of us take an all or nothing approach to our eating habits over the holiday period, feeling our only options are to completely deprive ourselves, or to overindulge and feel shame and guilt for doing so. Practicing mindful eating can help to focus your attention to the present situation, enabling you to focus on the when, where, and how you eat, helping you to practice moderation, restraint and portion control. While not all tips will work for everyone, I encourage you to select the ones that you feel you can achieve.
Mindful Eating Tip 1: Watch your portion size.
No one wants to spend Christmas counting calories and missing out on the foods you love. Instead get picky about what you eat - making sure you only select the foods that you truly love and mix them in with some healthier options. Try using a smaller plate to help with portion control, don't feel the need to clean your plate, and avoid eating foods straight from the box, bag or container.
Mindful Eating Tip 2: Focus on the food.
When it is time to eat, let that be your main focus. Avoid multitasking and make time to become more aware of the foods you are eating and how much of them you are consuming. Try sitting at a table for meals and reducing distractions such as TV, phones, and electronics.
Mindful Eating Tip 3: Know the difference between physical and psychological hunger.
Psychological hunger tends to come on suddenly, and is normally a craving for a specific food, whereas Physical hunger can be felt in our body - like when our stomach rumbles. Understanding these differences can help to identify whether you are feeling true hunger, as opposed to being hungry because of stress or boredom. Try checking in with yourself before you eat to see how you feel, recognising your wants and needs, and practice listening to body signals and nourish your body accordingly.
Mindful Eating Tip 4: Don't go out on an empty stomach.
Many of us are guilty of starving ourselves all day, when we know there is a delicious feast waiting for us! Unfortunately this practice can leave our body feeling desperate for the fatty, sugary and salty foods that are not great for us. Try eating a small and nourishing meal before going out to avoid temptation and overeating.
Mindful Eating Tip 5: Buffet tables - plan your strategy.
Everyone loves an all you can eat buffet, but piling your plate high and repeated round trips are not going to help you in your quest to be more mindful about your eating habits. Try to scope out the buffet table when you arrive and think about what you want to to eat most, then start with the salads and work your way up to your favourite food - this will make it feel like you are treating yourself.
Mindful Eating Tip 6: Do you need that second helping?
Before making that second trip to the buffet, take a moment to assess how full you are feeling. Remember that it takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that it the stomach is "full". Try waiting for 20 minutes in between rounds to let your food digest and see whether you truly feel like another helping. Also try to focus on eating slowly, making each bite last.
Mindful Eating Tip 7: Don't hover around the food table.
Keeping your distance from the buffet table will prevent you from mindlessly reaching for food, helping you to not overindulge. Try standing away from the buffet table and focus on the social situation around you, catching up with friends and family.
Mindful Eating Tip 8: Watch your alcohol intake.
While many of us like to celebrate the festive season with a glass of wine, beer, or cocktail, knowing how many empty calories these drinks contain, can help you be more selective about the beverage you choose and how much you consume. Drinking in excess can also lead you to making poor food decisions, reaching for that bag of chips, or greasy late night snack. Try setting a limit on how many drinks you will consume before you get to the party, remember to re-hydrate inbetween drinks with water, and avoid drinking on an empty stomach as it can increase appetite.
Mindful Eating Tip 9: Take a seat while you eat.
Avoid eating on the go over the holiday season as when we are in a rush we tend to overeat and not take time to properly chew and enjoy our food. Making a point to sit down while eating is a great way to focus on your food, helping to reduce portion sizes and slow down your pace of eating, which can help maintain a healthy weight and aid in digestion. Try sitting at a table without distractions, which can allow you to focus on your food and keep track of what you have eaten.
Mindful Eating Tip 10: Make time to exercise.
Keeping active both while at parties and in your down time, can be a great way to burn those extra calories you consume. Try doing the rounds at parties, catching up with people, or going for a brisk walk following a meal. Try to keep to your usual daily exercise regime, doing at least some form of exercise each day - whether it be walking, cycling, swimming etc.