As promised here are the next 4 tips of the 12 Tips for Holiday Eating and Health in Body, Mind and Spirit.

1.  Allow your favorite foods

and “normalize” them, as part of a well-rounded and diverse way of eating, so as to not feel afraid or desperate around certain foods.  Scarcity and deprivation (as in restricting or dieting or eating “diet” foods) lead to feelings of desperation and anxiety, which can lead to overeating later.  Practicing the “Eating from the Neck Down” exercise above helps you to trust your body when eating any kind of  food, and this can help you to feel more calm, secure, and well-taken care of—creating less of a need to overeat from symbolic hunger.

2.  Eat mindfully with an awareness of the present moment.

Mindful eating can help you to stay in the present moment and make choices in beginning or ending a meal by noticing hunger and satiety cues; identify disordered eating triggers such as feelings, environment, social situations or certain people, and certain foods; value quality of the eating experience over quantity of food; appreciate the sensual, spiritual and social, as well as the nourishing, capacity of food; and feel deep gratitude that may come from appreciating and experiencing food.

The following are some tips that can help you develop a mindful eating practice during the holidays and make your celebrations as well as everyday eating experiences enjoyable and satisfying:

  • Make your eating place special, aesthetic and peaceful.  Remove distractions (clutter, noise, media, etc.  Soothing music okay).
  • Contemplate the origins of the food you are about to eat: where did it come from, what process did it go through before it got to my table, what will this food do for me?
  • Take a moment of silence before you eat and bless and express gratitude for the food.
  • Continue to practice listening to your body: hunger/fullness attunement before, during and after eating.
  • Notice the sensual aspects—aroma, colors, flavor, texture, temperature, etc.—of the food you are eating.  Choose foods that have a variety of sensual aspects.
  • Chew your food slowly, not only to help digestion and mechanically slow down eating, but it helps to savor your food, really feel and taste it.
  • Use your Non-dominant hand to eat (whether finger foods or using utensils) to heighten your intuition, connection to the body, nutritional messages and satiety signals.  This also mechanically slows down eating and promotes mindfulness.

3.  Carry a food bag

when you are away from home with a variety foods, so that you can eat on demand—that is: what, when and how much your body tells you at any time, any place, or so that you can adhere to scheduled meals.  This contributes to the feeling of being well taken care of, and again, reducing the need to over- or under-eat.  So, if you are out running errands, working late, or just forget to eat, having foods to carry with you is like having a safety net—you will fundamentally feel more grounded, calm and taken care of, lessening anxiety and stress that can affect eating later.

4.  Enact self-acceptance

—replacing negative self-talk with non-judgmental thoughts and words about yourself, your body, your eating and your worth.  You are entitled to have pleasurable, fun and meaningful experiences during the holidays and everyday.  Every time you think a negative thought about yourself you are setting yourself up for eating struggles.  These thoughts are not innocuous.  We really believe them, and feel dreadful whenever we say them, even subconsciously.

The first step in replacing negative thoughts is to be consciously aware of them, and that they are not helping you.  In fact, these thoughts distract you from your real feelings just as overeating or restricting does.  Each time you think a bad body thought, something else is brewing (just as with symbolic hunger).  Critical body thoughts are not really about the body.  It is a translation from an uncomfortable feeling (that you don’t want to have), to your body or other aspects of yourself that you don’t accept.  By ending the body thought you are then able to begin to name your difficulties rather than label them as your weight or eating problem.  Also, by ending these thoughts, you break the circuit of the food-weight obsession cycle.

Self-acceptance is a process of consciously committing to giving yourself the kind, gentle, compassionate, loving messages you deserve to hear and believe.  The key to transformation is when you realize you are the only one that can consistently give enough of these messages to yourself.

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