Thanksgiving Day involves a lot of delicious and lovingly cooked food. It also offers a lot of temptation to gorge yourself until you feel sick. Balancing the desire to eat as much of the tasty fare as possible with being sensitive to your limits is a case of mindful eating. Here are some suggestions to help you out.
Accept that this is a day of indulgence. While you may be on a diet or watching your food intake, bringing any sense of deprivation into the day may cause you to overeat out of sheer rebelliousness against “missing out”. Cut yourself a little slack and let yourself enjoy more food than usual on this special day. After all, the next day things can go back to normal.
Be sure to eat properly prior to the meal. Don’t skip any of the meals during the day – eat breakfast and lunch. The only difference is that you may want to eat more lightly than usual. However, skipping eating normally will just tempt you to overeat at the Thanksgiving meal.
Take small amounts when serving yourself. Take one small piece or scoop of everything that you enjoy to begin with. Remind yourself that you can always take seconds! This approach is considerate of the need to avoid waste.
Honor the food. Thanksgiving is a time of giving thanks for the food that is on the table. Think about the contents of your plate and how it was once alive and is now about to provide you with energy and nutrition. Think about all the people whose efforts brought the food to the table, from the farmer to the cook.
Pause. Before you begin to eat, notice everything about the food on your plate. What are its colors, textures, aromas and anything else of note?
Take small bites and chew everything well. This relates back to the previous step––as you bite, savor the things that you noticed about the food when you took time to assess, such as texture and taste. Also, small bites and slow chewing aids digestion, as enzymes in the mouth begin to break down the food for you.
Chat with others. You’re more likely to realize that you’re full before you feel sick if you talk, rather than shovel food into your mouth non-stop! During the meal, make an effort to engage others in conversation in between bites. This shouldn’t be too hard if family members you haven’t seen for awhile turn up with news of the events in their lives.
Avoid wolfing down your food. Eat slowly and savor the food you’re consuming. If you finish everything on your plate, wait a minute. You can tell a story to everyone else, or just sit back and relax.
Take seconds only if you’re still hungry. Repeat the eat-wait-take more cycle until you feel satisfied, but not stuffed. Aim for feeling good, not feeling so stuffed that you can’t eat another thing or feel ill.
Get away from the table. Go for a walk, play football, entertain a child, play with a pet or help clean up! Head out to volunteer for those less fortunate on Thanksgiving. This will keep you from munching just because there’s food in sight.
Congratulate yourself on a job well done. And laugh at everyone who feels so full they can’t move! In fact, you might take a moment to share the secret of enjoying a Thanksgiving meal mindfully with them––just don’t be preachy.