How mindful eating can help
How mindful eating can help
Charlotte Rose Daniells
Over-indulging on festive food has become common place over the Christmas period, with endless mince pies, big Christmas dinners with all the trimmings, and cheese boards galore. However, you may be surprised to learn that just shy of half of Brits actually want to eat healthier which was revealed in a Christmas survey by Statista. Eating healthier over Christmas is possible with effective planning and the right mindset, and it can be achieved without cutting out treats and indulgence all together.
Indulging over the festivities leading up to Christmas often seems inevitable. There are often more parties, social gatherings, family dinners, and work events to celebrate and mark the festive period in the lead up to Christmas. There are more offers, opportunities, and access to less healthy food and alcohol than any other time of the year.
The odd treat here and there can all add up quite quickly; the extra chocolates, biscuits, and mince pies that are on-hand in your kitchen that are grazed on, as well as The Christmas dinners, rich desserts, and buffets available at social events. It can be easy to lose sight of making healthy choices when all around you there is tempting food and treats on offer. ‘It is Christmas after all’ and ‘the diet starts on the first of January’ may echo in the air, but ultimately consistency over indulging in the weeks leading up to Christmas means more calories, and in turn, this often leads to putting on weight. On average a person can put on up to two pounds. Safe to say that extra round of cheese and handful of chocolates from the open celebrations tin before you know it, add up to large quantities.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence, especially over Christmas, it is important to keep in mind your goals for nutrition. How are you going to maintain a healthy and balanced diet? How are you going to manage parties and dinners? How are you going to navigate daily temptations of sweet treats? The answer to all of the above is through effective planning and setting of strategies to ensure that you are practicing mindful, rather than mindless, eating over Christmas.
First, let’s look at what is meant by mindfulness. This practice is centred around the focus on the present moment that you are in whilst “acknowledging and accepting your feelings and thoughts”. When it comes to eating, mindfulness is all about considering your food choices, whilst eating to enjoy your food and be appreciative of the food that you are eating. How does mindful eating work in practice? We’ve outlined some key ways that you can practice mindful eating over Christmas to ensure that you are making healthy, informed choices and be present in the moment at meal times.
If you are looking for support with drinking over the Christmas period, and are looking to cut down or make healthier choices, then mindful drinking can help. Give our blog post a read: What is mindful drinking?
Going to the supermarket armed with a shopping list is key. This reduces the risk of falling into the trap of the many temptations that lurk around each aisle. It means you avoid browsing for what you may need and in the process adding biscuits and chocolate to your trolley. Take time to plan out your meals for each week leading up to Christmas, ensuring they include a good balance of plenty of vegetables, fruits, protein, carbohydrates, beans, nuts, and wholegrains.
We touched on this point above but how can you get into the habit of eating healthy food? Well, after sticking to your list of healthy food; at the supermarket it is important to take note of how you feel when eating it. For example, if you are eating a low fat yoghurt in the afternoon, take time to think about how it is satisfying your hunger and how it is making you feel. Building a positive relationship with healthier food will help you to consistently make healthier choices.
Being aware of the quantity of food that you are consuming is really important so you stay within recommend calorie guidelines. The first step is education around sensible portion sizes that support good nutrition. The British Nutrition Foundation website contains a wealth of guides and science-based information around portion size guides. What do sensible portions sizes look like? For example, having no more than three handfuls of cereal at breakfast, a baked potato the size of your first at lunch, and no more than two handfuls of dried pasta shapes for your pasta dish at dinner.
How can a portion of two handfuls of pasta be enough? When it is combined with great flavours in the sauce and packed full of vegetables it will serve as a nutritious meal. Staying full and taking the time your brain needs to catch up that is full comes back to being present in the moment. Taking your time eating, chewing slowly, and appreciating each bite will all help. Less doesn’t mean hungry with mindful eating. Take your time, enjoy the different flavours and ingredients, acknowledge your surroundings. Once you’re full, acknowledge this, and ask yourself if you need to continue eating.
This step is a great tool to use, especially when eating away from your home whether it is at a Christmas dinner or social event. As you are considering on which starter or main in a restaurant or what to put on your place at a buffet, ask yourself:
Enjoying a delicious dinner or meal whilst spending time with your loved ones on Christmas day is a time of joy and happiness. Meals and snacks can still be nutritious as well as delicious, but planning is key. Setting a menu and limitations for snacking will go a long way in eating balanced meals and still enjoying flavoursome and festive foods.
Whilst buying food and drink for Christmas day it will help to keep to a set a budget and work out the quantities required for sensible and adequate portions for the number of guests. For example, the BBC recommends 750g of potatoes for 1-3 people. The portion guide on the BBC food website is one of many tools available to help work out reasonable portions for Christmas dinner without the risk of a lot of food going to waste.
A top tip is to start your day right by ensuring you eat well to set yourself up for the day. Remembering to still have a nutritious breakfast is really important as it will curb cravings and the temptation to graze before your Christmas dinner. Nutritious doesn’t mean ditching the flavour, quite the opposite in fact. We’ve listed below some tasty recipes for delicious breakfast recipes:
If you are looking for more advice on healthy eating during the festive period then read our blog post: Healthy eating in winter. You can find useful info and tips on soups, salads, vitamin D intake, and hydration.
To help boost your wellbeing and general health over Christmas and on Christmas day it can be really beneficial to add some movement into your day. Even just some gentle exercise such as wrapping up warm and going on a walk with loved ones can help to get some fresh air and get those steps in. As little as a ten-minute walk around your local area after your Christmas dinner will help to:
Your premium can be paid on a monthly or annual payment plan. The most common way to pay is by direct debit – this method is accepted by all our insurers. Some of our insurers also accept payment by BACS and annual payment by cheque.
All insurers have a “cooling off period” usually between 14 and 30 days, allowing you to cancel your policy and any monies debited will be fully refunded. Should you choose to cancel outside of the 'cooling off period', you will need to notify us and we will be able to assist you from there.
As a nation we are fortunate to have a publicly funded health service, giving everyone access to treatment at little to no cost. Due to increasing pressure on the NHS, many people now face long waiting lists and delayed or cancelled treatment. Whilst receiving private treatment you will not face long waiting lists for treatment, in fact you are likely to be seen within a week or so. Health Insurance offers you access to a choice of hospitals and treatment times that suit you, with overnight stays often being in a private room.
Long NHS waiting lists and cancelled or delayed procedures are a common motivation for initial enquiries into Health Insurance. Depending on the condition, it is unlikely it will be covered on your plan. Although, if you have a pre-existing condition speak to one of our expert advisors as different underwriting options may suit your needs.
We will be in touch shortly to run through your free tailor-made quote from UK’s leading insurers. Our prices won’t be beaten with our best price guarantee.