Posted by Jennifer Garibaldi, MPH, RD, LDN, CPT, CHWC on Dec 19th 2019
Well, whether we like it or not, this month seems to have flown by and the holidays are now upon us! You’ve probably been going nonstop, just like us, with trying to fit in work, friends, family, and gift shopping all while trying to maintain a regular routine and somehow find your own personal time in between all of it. Whether you’re spending time with family, friends, loved ones or celebrating with just yourself, we all are bound to indulge a bit over the holidays with some of our favorite seasonal foods.
While food is a special part of the holidays, the stress of the season can also affect our eating habits. As we run around like mad people preparing for the season, we can find it more and more difficult to be mindful of our eating choices. Our minds are on autopilot and we have less time to plan our days around what to eat. Eating becomes more of a necessity to silence hunger instead of an enjoyable experience. It can be challenging to be mindful of our eating habits during this time of year, but the more we understand mindful eating and its importance, the more we can improve our relationship around food and lessen the guilt that arises when it comes to eating, during this time.
What exactly is mindful eating? Mindful eating is about being fully present while eating. It teaches us to use all of our senses to experience and enjoy our meals. It encourages us to shy away from judging ourselves and our food choices. Mindful eating also means that we’re thinking about more than just what we’re eating, but also HOW we’re eating. We set aside any distractions and actually taste our food. We notice the colors, the texture, the temperature, and how it feels in our mouths as we chew. When was the last time you had an eating experience like this? How quickly do you typically eat? Are you multitasking while you eat? If we eat too quickly, it can lead to overeating since our stomach hasn’t had time to tell our brain that we’ve had enough. Taking the time to focus on your food can greatly increase the satisfaction you get from eating it.
It’s so important to listen to your body and respond to what it’s telling you about your food. If you’re hungry, acknowledge those feelings of hunger and eat. If you’re craving a specific food, give yourself permission to enjoy that food! Try to avoid labeling foods as “good” or “bad”, because this can lead to you internalizing these feelings. You then think that you’re being “bad” if you eat “bad” foods or “good” when you eat “good” foods. This often leads to guilt and episodes of overeating. You have an incredible instincts that helps you know what does and doesn’t appeal to you. The more you practice mindful eating, the more you recognize and tune into these instincts.
So, what do fruits have to do with mindful eating? You’ve probably noticed that fruits come in a variety of colors, textures, and flavors making them a great food to practice mindfulness.
Let’s explore mindful eating further with a favorite fall fruit, apples. In this activity, we’ll practice mindful eating as we take a break to enjoy an apple. Notice the similarities and differences in how you normally eat an apple (or any other fruit) compared to this activity.
Activity: Grab an apple and follow the prompts below.
- Hold the apple in your hands and notice how it feels. Is it smooth, does it have bumps or grooves?
- Observe the colors. Is it just one shade or are there different colors present?
- Now smell the apple. What smells can you notice? Does it smell sweet? Sour? Fruity?
- Go ahead and bite the apple and notice the texture. How does it feel on your tongue? Gritty? Mushy?
- Let it sit in your mouth a little as you fully chew the apple. What does it taste like? Is it sweet? Sour? Both?
That’s it! How was that? Have you ever sat down and fully paid attention to the different qualities of an apple before? What do you think? I’m sure you may be thinking, who has time to do that with every meal?! This seems exhausting! I get it and I’m here to let you know that you don’t have to do this with every meal, every day. But it’s helpful to eat more mindfully as much as it’s realistic for you to do so, even if that’s one meal a day or every other day or 3 times per week. The more you practice, though, it becomes second nature. It won’t seem so forced.
Now that we’re more familiar with mindful eating, here are some additional tips to practice mindful eating with fruit.
- Take the time to fully sense and appreciate the color, texture, scent, and flavor of your fruit
- Eliminate distractions while you are eating
- Listen and respond to your body when it tells you that you’re hungry or full
- Try to move away from thinking of fruits as “good” or “bad” and instead, choose fruits that are satisfying and appealing to you
- If time is an issue, consider an on-the-go fruit option such as That’s it. Fruit Bars
- Eat slowly and pause between bites.
- Try new fruits and experiment with new fruit combinations. That’s it. Fruit Bars has a variety of combination of fruit bars that are perfect for enjoying a blend of fruit flavors.
- If you tend to eat quickly, allow yourself 10-15 minutes after you eat before deciding to eat more. Your brain needs this time to communicate with your stomach to tell you you’re full.
I hope that this trip through mindful eating has opened some doors of thought for you as you explore and learn more about your relationship with food. Fruit can be a wonderful, diverse part of our daily lives and using the concepts of mindful eating can help us enjoy it to the fullest! As you continue into this fall season and on into the holidays, consider adding more fruit to your daily life. Remember that there are a variety of ways to enjoy fruit, including convenient options like That’s it. Fruit Bars. Explore what works for you and remember to add variety and try new things along the way. Enjoy and happy fall!
Hey! I’m Jennifer! A wellness, non-diet dietitian. I focus on the body as a whole and I don’t promote a particular diet. I encourage women to find a way of eating that’s realistic and sustainable for THEIR lifestyle. I specialize in helping women end the cycle of restrictive eating and overeating as well as heal emotional eating, by empowering them to become confident eaters, so they can finally get back to living and reach their goals.
If you’re struggling with your eating and would like help moving away from the cycle of restrictive dieting and overeating, you may be interested in my Eat Confidently Lifestyle course/group coaching program.
I would love to work with you! Let’s connect: