The holiday season has a lot of “shoulds”. As in, you “should” be happy, this “should” be the most wonderful time of the year, and you and your family “should” be basking in your togetherness. However, we all know that the stress and pressure of so many social situations can lead to anxiety, depression, overeating, and feeling generally disappointed when the holiday season proves to be more stressful than blissful. November is a great time to begin making the connection between gratitude and mindful eating, which could transform not only the way you celebrate upcoming holidays, but also the way you perceive your life (and your plate) the rest of the year. Mindfulness and gratitude are linked to better sleep, stronger resilience in the face of life’s struggles, and even achieving and maintaining healthy weight goals. With so many benefits, is it any wonder that connecting a practice in gratitude with mindful eating would be just what many of us need in the face of increasingly tight schedules and the myriad demands on our efforts and energy? We have some tips on how to incorporate these practices into your daily life to help you slow down amidst the chaos and to make room for what matters most to you by shifting your perceptions and relationships with yourself, others, and food.
  1. Mind your manners: Remember when you were told you need to sit down to eat? Yep, it turns out sitting down and eating your food off of real dishes instead of from take-out boxes is key to a healthier eating experience. At work, take a few minutes to leave your desk and sit down for your lunch- this will help you to be present and aware of not only what you are eating but how it makes you feel.
  2. Turn off notifications: Scrolling through Instagram, eating at your desk, the television blaring in the background… these things make mealtimes hectic and inhibit your ability to taste your food and realize when you are full, not to mention disrupt healthy digestion. Consider each bite with all of your senses and tune in to how you’re eating as much as to what’s on your plate.
  3. Say thank you: before digging in, say thank you to your host or take a moment to appreciate the farmers, folks at the grocery store, or yourself for preparing the meal. Taking a minute to feel grateful for the food on your plate and how it got there is a great way to focus on the activity of eating and to tune in to your body’s experience of the food.
  4. Embrace mistakes: if you overindulge at a work party, instead of judging yourself for failing, consider what you’d like to do differently at your next meal or snack. When the next opportunity arises, slow down so that your stomach has time to tell you brain when you are full.
There are many reasons why incorporating gratitude and mindfulness practices into your daily life are great for your health and wellbeing. Mindfulness is really just practicing these small habit shifts on a daily basis, in whatever ways allow you to tune in to your mind-body experience. Such a practice lets you focus on what matters most in your life, allowing you to keep living your life in accordance with your values. This sense of gratitude and awareness has the power to positively impact your perception of yourself, others, and your relationship with food… pretty timely for the arrival of the holiday season and beyond!