• By: Su-Nui Escobar, MS, RDN

Keep Mindfulness in Mind this Holiday Season

We all love eating our favorite holiday treats, but we are often afraid of the common five-pound holiday weight gain. It hurts having to choose between the tasty pumpkin pie and our favorite pair of jeans. But do we really need to choose? Can we have our pie and eat it too? YES, we can!

Mindful eating, the practice of being aware of the present moment while eating, allows us to eat foods we enjoy and nourish our body. When we allow ourselves to select food based on personal preferences and nutrition goals, it is more likely that we end up with an overall well-balanced eating pattern. We are also more likely to fit in our favorite pair of jeans in early January.

The principles of mindful eating:

● Allow yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are

available through food selection and preparation.

● Use all your senses when eating.

● Choose to eat foods that are satisfying and nourishing.

● Acknowledging your food preferences without judgment.

● Honoring your cues of hunger and satiety cues. (1)

Applying this principles can be scary, but let us show you how it works:

Let’s say you walk into the Osprey Cafe and they have your favorite holiday sweet treat- the vegan oatmeal and pumpkin cookies- but you are worried about putting on weight. Can you eat one? Yes, you can! However, before eating it, you first ask yourself if you really want to eat it in that specific moment. If you decide that you do, then choose the rest of your meal accordingly to help you fit the sweet into your day. Perhaps you can choose a healthier main course like the grilled chicken and veggie saute or pass on a side dinner roll that day. Then, you sit down and enjoy every single bite of that meal. Think about how the food tastes, smells, and feels. Lastly, you acknowledge your hunger and fullness cues. Maybe after a few bites you are satisfied and save the rest for later. Or maybe not, and you savor the whole treat right then. As simple as that.

Does it work? Yes! Since mindful eaters are aware of all cues affecting their own eating behaviors, this technique has been shown to help diet quality and food choices, weight management, food intake and adequate caloric intake.(2,3)

In addition to mindfully eating, here are some other tips you can try to avoid overeating and feeling sluggish this holiday season:

● Get rid of distractions when eating.

● Don’t ban your favorite foods- enjoy them in moderation!

● Eat at regular hours.

● If you're a stress eater, try other relaxation methods like yoga

● Eat slowly. Taking the time to chew slower and enjoy your food has been found to reduce overall food intake and increase feelings of fullness.(4)

The ultimate goal is to enjoy yourself and this holiday season. Take the time to relax, de-stress, and have some of your favorite foods, guilt-free!

Author IG: @mindfulfamilyeats


1. The Principles of Mindful Eating. https://www.thecenterformindfuleating.org/Principles-Mindful-Eating. Accessed 11/06/, 2019.

2. Jordan CH, Wang W, Donatoni L, Meier BP. Mindful eating: Trait and state mindfulness predict healthier eating behavior. Personality and Individual Differences. 2014;68:107-111. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.04.013.

3. Warren JM, Smith N, Ashwell M. A structured literature review on the role of mindfulness, mindful eating and intuitive eating in changing eating behaviours: effectiveness and associated potential mechanisms. 2017. doi: 10.1017/S0954422417000154.

4. Kubala J. 23 Effective Ways to Stop Overeating. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-stop-overeating. Published April 16, 2018. Accessed November 12, 2019.

#mindfuleating #mindfulness #holidayeating #holiday #intuitiveeating #bodyimage #healthyeating #MentalHealth

UNF Dining Services' Dietitian

Email Yemila: y.lowry@unf.edu

Bldg 8/1210-J

1 UNF Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32224