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Mindful Eating This Holiday

Close up of a child eating a plate of fresh food

From October to January, there’s enough food on most family’s tables to feed a small village. Overeating is a problem for nearly everyone this time of year, but you can stop yourself from packing on the pounds by practicing mindful eating.

You might not know it, but you’ve probably practiced mindfulness techniques while hunting down an apartment for rent in Los Angeles or while at the grocery store. It’s all about being here, now, in the moment. Give these 10 tips a try the next time you eat and see if they can’t help you fully enjoy the holidays without packing on the pounds.

1. Stop, Reflect

Before even thinking about the meal at hand, take a moment to reflect upon how you feel. Do the holidays have you stressed, rushed, or feeling down? All three can cause you to binge eat, which is a direct cause of unwanted weight gain.

Think about your feelings and whether or not you’re actually hungry. Sometimes, your body just wants to eat to cope with the stress of the holidays. Once you’ve assessed yourself, you can determine how much you really want to eat or if you even want to eat at all.

2. Always Sit Down

Eating on the go, though sometimes helpful as you race towards work, is a bad habit. Ultimately, you’ll lose track of how much you’re eating as you multitask. It’s also difficult to fully enjoy your food while rushing around.

Instead, sit down for each meal. That might mean packing a lunch and eating it at your desk instead of picking up a breakfast burrito from the drive-thru. Regardless, choosing to sit down while eating will help your mind and body identify the action with meal time.

3. Unplug for a Moment

Mindfulness is about being aware and in the moment. If you allow electronics like your phone or TV to distract you from your meal, then you aren’t exactly present to enjoy it. All of a sudden your plate is empty and you can’t remember the last thing that was on your fork.

It isn’t an easy habit to break, but turn off or put away your devices. Take the time to fully enjoy your meal with each bite, talk to those around you, and live in the moment.

4. Portions, Portions, Portions

Everyone likes to snack straight out of the bag, but it isn’t a healthy habit. Using controlled portion sizes helps maintain your weight, but it also allows you to see what you’re eating. Part of the enjoyment you get from food is visual, after all.

Picture a delicious apple. Did you imagine a red one? Why? Appreciating the color and sight of food is part of mindful eating. The red on that apple instantly makes it more appealing, adding to your tasty experience. When your food is in a bag, you’re missing that aspect of a snack or meal.

5. Use a Smaller Plate

Sight is an important aspect of everything you eat, but your brain does more with the visual aspect than say that the red on an apple is delicious. It uses size to gauge how much you’ve eaten. If you compared two plates piled high from a buffet, one plate being smaller than the other, your brain would always think there was less food on the larger plate.

It’s a unique phenomenon, but one you can use to your advantage during the holidays. By combining portion size and small plates, you’ll feel fuller at each sitting. This also forces you to consciously think about what is being placed on the plate as you make room for everything.

6. Be Thankful

Even on Thanksgiving, most people are only thinking about diving into the food on their plate. It’s understandable, of course, but you can practice mindfulness by taking a moment to be grateful for the labor that went into your meal. Think about the farmers that grew the vegetables, the factory workers who packaged these foods, the animals that went into the dish and the people that prepared it.

7. The Rule of 30

With each bite, chew as close to 30 times as possible. It isn’t always possible with something like oatmeal, but give it your best shot each and every time you place food into your mouth. This forces you to slow down and enjoy the flavor profile of different foods as well as their textures.

At the same time, this act of slowing down stops you from overeating. The more time allotted in-between more food entering your stomach, the more time that organ has to relay information to your brain. You might find that you’re full after a 1/3 of a plate instead of after a second helping.

8. Placing Your Fork Down

While you’re chewing, set your fork down on the plate or table. Wait until you’ve swallowed what’s inside your mouth before picking it up again for the next bite. This retrains your brain from a, “more, more, more,” thought process to one that focuses on the food you’re chewing. You’ll enjoy each bite more this way.

9. You Don’t Have to Clean Your Plate

What would your mother say if a five-year-old you didn’t clean their plate? Well, you aren’t five anymore and no one is forcing that one vegetable you can’t stand on you. While most people were brought up to clean their plates, it isn’t necessary now that you’re older.

There’s nothing wrong with taking the leftovers on your plate and saving them for later or repurposing them into lunch for tomorrow. Forcing yourself to eat more when you start to feel full isn’t healthy. Besides, saving those bites for later is a sure-fire way to extend the life of your monthly food budget.

10. You Don’t Have to Talk

Sitting in silence might be enough to make your skin crawl, but it’s a major part of Mindful Eating. You mind will wander at first, but try to focus on the meal at hand. What does it taste like? Smell like? Feel like? Take this time to fully enjoy your meal.

Don’t have everyone at the table sit in silence for the duration of the meal, though. Eating is as social as it is individual. However, five to ten minutes of silence is an excellent way to destress from the day and enjoy your food at the same time.

Apartment for Rent in Los Angeles

Mindfulness practices lead to a happier, more fulfilling life. That’s what The Madrid is all about. This beautiful perfectly-manicured community offers high-end luxuries in an area that defines the true meaning of a neighborhood. Arrive home to park-like settings within an urban oasis or head out into a wealth of opportunities from the waves of the beach to fine dining and premier shopping experiences.

Of course, leaving home is difficult in a community like this one. Get to know your neighbors with catered barbecues and resident appreciation days, relax with carefully curated amenitiesthat cater to every facet of life, and enjoy the modern finishes in your apartment that provide the warm comforts of home.

How do you measure happiness? Simple commutes, relaxing spaces like the spa grotto, and modern conveniences might be a start. Come visit The Madrid in person. We’ll be happy to show