For many clients dealing with an eating disorder, the holidays can often be a very challenging time. Amid the holiday lights, Christmas carols, and snowy days, the holidays often focus on the food being served. Use the below tips to practice mindfulness when eating this holiday season to increase overall enjoyment and make for a more positive eating experience.

1. Tune into hunger/fullness cues. Can you recognize your hunger cues, such as a grumbling stomach, headache, or dizziness? These are signs the body gives us that we are hungry and need to eat. Make time to honor these hunger cues by prioritizing eating.

2. Eat at regular intervals. Eating regularly can help us rebuild our relationship with food by honoring our hunger and providing consistent nutrition throughout the day. To make this easier, set the alarm or reminder on your phone to eat every 2-3 hours. This is especially helpful when you are engaged any of the vast array of activities associated with this season.

3. Allow yourself permission to eat what sounds good in the moment. Start by asking yourself, “what sounds appetizing?” Would something cold or something warm sound more appetizing? How about something crunchy or something smooth? By listening to and honoring your cravings, you are continuing to rebuild a positive relationship with food. Put all foods on the same playing field. Remember, no “good” or “bad” foods exist. By doing this, you are practicing eating for satisfaction and nourishment… a wonderful combination!

4. Enjoy the holiday flavors without distractions. Can you remember a time when you ate a meal or snack and were 100% present in the moment? What did the food taste like? Were you satisfied after eating? We all have distractions that have the potential to interfere with our eating every day. Remaining present in the moment without distractions will make for a more positive and satisfying dining experience. Try eating without any tv or phone screens at meals while also practicing sitting down while eating if you don’t already. You might find yourself enjoying the taste of the food more!

Give yourself grace and compassion. Eating is not meant to be perfected. Food is meant for nourishment and enjoyment. Try one of these tips above to practice mindful eating of your favorite foods this holiday season!

– Maggie Wallace, RD, LD