Tis' the season for holiday parties, giving and horrendous eating. It's true. The holidays can be hard and triggering for a lot of us and it spills over onto our plates.
Whether it's being around family or being exposed to the buffets full of sugar and fried foods, eating well and mindfully can be such a challenge this time of year.
Here are my top tips for munching mindfully this holidays season:
1. Think about your triggers: Is it a family meal where emotions run high? Is it a buffet where you can eat as much as you want? Take a moment to think about the areas where you feel out of control and where you turn to food to feel in control again. I highly recommend free-writing this exercise and see what comes to the surface.
2. Find the WHY: For some of us, the struggle is daily. For others, the holidays really digs this stuff up. It's important to go to the root of the issue. And the root is usually our families. What was the conversation around food in your home growing up? Was it frantic and frenetic? Was your mom always on a diet and really anxious at the dinner table? Was your dad a chronic over-eater who always ate of your plate so you ate quickly to compensate? Whatever it was, journal it out. Think back to the FEELING that is the root of your disconnected relationship to food. What are you covering up? What are you trying not to feel?
3. Call it by it's name and then let it go: Once you know what the feeling is that you're trying to cover up, call it by it's name. If it's anxiety, call it that. If it's sadness, call it that. But don't make yourself feel guilty about. The feeling of guilt also keeps us stuck and in our unhealthy patterns because the ego gets a moment in the spotlight.
4. Come out of your mind and into your body:
If you find yourself super triggered and reaching for a bag of the most unhealthy thing you can find, do a quick breathing exercise. One of my favorites is the 4-7-8 breathing exercise or breath of fire. You can find more breathing exercises here.
Clients do this at work all the time. If they have a challenging meeting or a tough conversation with their boss that usually ends in a binge, breathing can be a great way to bring yourself out of your triggered mind and back to your body.
5. When approaching each meal, express your gratitude: Instead of diving in head first and eating without thinking, take a moment to consider your food, where it came from and how grateful you are to eat it. If you want you can even say a quick prayer. Some of my clients say prayer like "Thank you for this food. May it nourish my cells and my soul." Super simple and basic but reminds you of the role of food in your life.
6. Forgive yourself and try again: If you catch yourself mid-binge, that's no biggie. It's actually a big win that you actually caught yourself! But it's super important not to punish yourself and to quickly get yourself out of shame and guilt and just try to do better next time. Be kind to yourself and simply try again. The best way to change a behavior is to be aware of it and practice the change.
You got this!