As Halloween is knocking on our door, we are quickly heading into that time of year where we spend a lot of time indulging and celebrating.   The holidays can be a lot of fun, but they can also bring a lot of stress, ultimately leading you to some very unconscious eating.  That added stress may lead you to indulge in foods you wouldn’t normally have and then be so caught up in the stress, you don’t even stop to taste them.  You know that moment, when the bag of M&M’s is suddenly, um, gone?

Ahhhh, there is the rub.

This holiday season, instead of arming yourself with some notion of better willpower and a strong negative connotation over the sugar that is heading your way (and therefore some weighty guilt on your shoulders), take a moment and check in with you.  Do you really want that piece of indulgence?  Do you have time to sit down and enjoy it?  There will be parties and events through the season where there might be some special treats you do want.  Be ok with that.  Make a conscious decision to eat those foods that may not be a normal part of your diet.  But, when you make that choice, also make the choice to sit down and thoroughly enjoy those foods. Taste every bite.  Savor it.  Enjoy the food with friends and with lots of laughter around the table.  Don’t talk about how you are going to work it off tomorrow at the gym, or about how ‘awful’ you are for enjoying it, no, just flat out enjoy it.  Remove the guilt.

This week, before we are fully into the holiday season, take some time to practice being mindful while you eat. Try these tips for at least one meal this week:

1)    Sit down and take 5 deep breaths before starting the meal and a moment to give thanks for the food and nourishment on your plate.

2)    Take a moment to look at your plate and notice the colors, textures and smells.  How does it look to you?  Are you looking forward to this meal?  Is your mouth watering?  I often get the image of Julia Roberts at the beginning of the film, ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ where she is a restaurant critic and her explanation of that first perfect bite.  Set yourself up for that first complete and perfect bite with a variety of textures and flavors in one.

3)    Put your fork down between bites.  Chew your food, count up to 30 chews per bite.  Make sure you taste every single morsel and break the food down well before swallowing.  What flavors can you pick out?  What combinations do you like?  Not like?  What are your favorite elements of the meal?  Do you save them for last or eat them first?

4)    Go slow.  Set a timer if you need to.  Try to make one meal this week last at least 30 minutes from the first bite to the last bite.  Was that easy to do or difficult?

5)    After this meal is complete, do you feel satisfied and content?  Do you notice anything digestively?  Take note of what differences might have occurred compared to another meal during the week.

Even if you don’t believe you are eating as healthy as you could be right now, just shifting the energy and the intention around how you view the food you are eating, can be incredibly impactful.  Start this week and see what a difference it can make.