It’s time for a new approach to holiday eating!

MPj044382900001-231x300Every year at this time a succession of health experts tells us what we should be eating in order to maintain our weight and our health during the winter eating extravaganza we call the “Holidays”.  Many of their suggestions start with the words “do not”….do not eat this….do not cook like that….As my brother never tires of telling me we are taking all the fun out of life.

In January my office resembles a confessional more than a place to learn about healthy eating.  Client after client comes in to tell me about how much they over ate, and why they couldn’t refuse Aunt Marge’s pie, even after 2 whopping servings.

Clearly the advice based on restriction is not working.  Instead of restriction most people throw caution to the wind, for about a month or so, and then follow this up with a period of intense dieting.  The end result is usually weight gain.  Some statistics say that the average weight gain during the period of the year that lasts from US Thanksgiving to the New Year is about 2 pounds, which sounds quite harmless.  However if you do not lose that weight the 2 pounds can quickly morph into an excess of 10 or more pounds.   At that rate someone who had a BMI of 20 at the age of 20 will have a BMI of 28 by the time they reach the age of 40.  This is considered to be overweight, with obesity just around the corner.

It’s time for a new approach!  Let’s try one that is based on respect for food, our culinary traditions and the pleasure we receive when we consume a delicious meal while surrounded by friends and family.   If we relax and enjoy we actually eat less.   Giving ourselves the permission to eat our favourite foods and relax and enjoy ourselves is the exact opposite of scoffing all the food we can eat, before we “get back on track” by going on yet another diet.

A mindful approach to eating, whether during the holidays or any other time of year, will allow us to eat the foods that we love and truly enjoy them.  We should take the time to identify which of the many holiday delicacies we are really craving, and then savour the smell, the taste, the texture, in fact the whole experience.  Why waste time and energy on foods that you do not really enjoy.  When faced with an abundance of choices, just ask what do I want to eat?  Taking the time to chew the food, and enjoy the taste of it actually leads to eating less calories, and feeling less stressed, which also leads to less over eating.  If we concentrate on enjoying the conversation with Aunt Marge she probably won’t even notice what or how much you are eating.

The basis of a healthy diet is balance, variety and moderation.  Eating mindfully also means making appropriate food choices that respond to the needs of our bodies.  It will allow us to make our traditional holiday meal, while inserting a few modern traditions.

This holiday season, try a new approach.  Think about what you need, what you want and what is available to you.  Savour the whole experience of your holiday table, and see how indulged you feel, without overeating.