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Mindful Holiday Eating and Drinking

Mindful holiday eating and drinking can help us navigate the season healthfully.

Guest blog post by Kimberly Swanson, Ph.D., Director for Behavioral Health at Mosaic Medical

All of our best intentions and good health habits are put to the ultimate test this time of year, and mindful holiday eating and drinking can help us navigate the season healthfully. During the holiday season there are typically lots of distractions and we are often over-scheduled, rushing around to attend many parties and get-togethers. And of course there are an abundance of yummy treats at every turn. Added to all this, many people have trouble fitting in exercise during this busy time of year. It is not easy to stay on track with our health through the holidays, and before you know it we have overindulged and packed on some unwanted pounds. To help you enjoy the holiday season fully we have gathered together a few tips to help you celebrate while maintaining your health. Practicing mindful holiday eating and drinking can help to lessen the stress of the season.

Alcohol Guidelines

Alcohol and celebration can often go hand in hand. It is not unreasonable to have alcohol in your life, but alcohol has a lot of hidden calories (e.g. one pint of beer has as much calories as a sugar coated doughnut!) and can really impact your health.

Some key questions to consider for mindful drinking include:

1) Are you relying on it?

2) Are you or is someone close to you concerned about your drinking?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that adult men have no more than two servings of alcohol in one sitting and adult women have no more than one serving in one sitting. Pregnant women are advised to avoid alcohol altogether. To limit alcohol consumption, try to alternate drinking alcohol with glasses of sparkling water.

Mindful Eating

Most of us eat because food is in front of us, whether or not we are truly hungry. And celebrations often have most, if not all of our favorite foods! Using the five “S’s” of mindful eating can help you enjoy all your holiday favorites while maintaining your health:

    1. Sit down: Studies show people eat 5% more when they stand and eat.
    2. Savor: Take a moment to really see the food in front of you, and to smell the aromas.
    3. Slowly Chew: Let the flavors rest on your tongue before taking the next bite.
    4. Stay in the moment: When we are socially engaged we cannot truly focus on what we are eating and drinking. Research shows us that when other people are indulging around us, we tend to indulge more too.  Put your fork down between bites of food while eating.
    5. Smile: Holiday meals and celebrations are the perfect time to give thanks for the abundance in our lives and for the people and efforts that went into providing the meal.

Holiday Hosting

If you are hosting for the holidays, below are some helpful tips to invest in both celebration and health:

    1. Include healthy food choices on your menu such as vegetables, fruits and lean meats.
    2. Baking, broiling and barbequing are healthy ways to prepare foods versus frying or adding fat and grease.
    3. Avoid sampling foods more than necessary while preparing – the calories can add up fast!
    4. Avoid grazing by putting food away after the meal is over.
    5. Give guests left over dishes to take home with them.

Being a Healthy Guest

If you are a guest at someone else’s home over the holidays, here are more helpful tips:

    1. Don’t skip meals beforehand in preparation for overindulging.
    2. Keep plate sizes and portion sizes small.
    3. Skip dressings, butter and gravy.
    4. Drink mostly water and limit alcoholic beverages.
    5. Plan some form of exercise before or after eating.

Need Support?

If you find you need help staying on track this holiday season with mindful holiday eating and drinking, or you find that the indulgences added up, never fear, we are here to help you get on track and stay on track! The first step is reaching out to your Mosaic provider. Your Mosaic Medical provider can direct you to several community and Mosaic resources:

  • Walk with Ease
  • Nutrition Kitchen
  • Eat for Life – a 4 months program for Type II Diabetes
  • Living Well with Chronic Medical Conditions
  • Mindfulness Group
  • Are you or a loved one concerned about your drinking? Talk to your Mosaic provider today.  We care about you and are here to help.

Not a Mosaic patient? Give us a call at 541-383-3005 and we can help you join the Mosaic Medical family.

Kimberly Swanson, Ph.D., is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist working full time as the Director for Behavioral Health at Mosaic Medical where she oversees both the Primary Care Integrated Behavioral Health team and embedded Substance Use Team (Transitions).  Dr. Swanson completed a yearlong leadership fellowship 2015-2016 in health care transformation through the Oregon Health Authority. Dr. Swanson presently chairs the regional Pain Standards Task Force (PSTF) for the Central Oregon Health Council. She was awarded the 2017 Deschutes County Health Hero award for the positive public health impact of PSTF. Dr. Swanson also currently serves on the Leadership Group for the Central Oregon Suicide Prevention Alliance and is a new Advisory Board Member for the Central Oregon chapter for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.