Mindful Eating during the Holiday Season


From Special Reports

The holidays are here, and along with the holidays comes the minefield of opportunity to overindulge on less-than-healthful foods.

The holiday food environment can especially be daunting to some who have a history of dieting and grabble with emotional or stress eating.

Corey Tolbert, dietitian at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont Newnan, shares her suggestions for a new approach to holiday eating, including mindful and intuitive techniques that can prevent overindulging and weight gain while increasing enjoyment during the holidays.

1. Give yourself permission to eat your favorite foods during the holidays – just monitor the portion size. You are less likely to overindulge if you do not deprive yourself of the foods that you enjoy.

2. Choose foods that taste good to maximize enjoyment.

3. Determine the foods you like most and taste the best at each event. Then, save room for those foods.

4. Stay nourished throughout the day to avoid going to parties hungry.

5. Schedule regular meals and snacks to prevent long gaps without eating to prevent being overly hungry.

6. Engage in physical activities that you enjoy and get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation interferes with hunger and fullness cues.

7. Continue to take some personal time for yourself, such as journaling, taking a bath, enjoying nature or meditating. This will allow you to stay attuned to yourself and your body’s needs.

8. Eat with intention and attention to your food and body. Learn to recognize your body’s signal of being full and satisfied.

9. Brainstorm and rehearse responses to friends and family members who continue to offer food to eat when you are full. You can say things like, “This is delicious, but I’m full,” or “I’d love to take some leftovers,” or simply “No thank you,” even if you have to repeat yourself.

Delicious Squash Casserole Recipe for Holiday Gatherings
(Ingredients highlighted in bold are healthy substitutions)
1 tablespoon canola oil (recipe calls for vegetable but canola oil is a healthier alternative)
6 medium yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
1 large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar (recipe originally calls for 1 cup)
1/2 cup non-fate plain Greek yogurt (recipe originally calls for sour cream but Greek yogurt is a healthy alternative)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed medium to fine (Recommend Ritz crackers over corn flakes)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the squash, onion, and butter until soft.
3. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan, Cheddar, and sour cream. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
4. Place in the prepared casserole dish and sprinkle the cracker crumbs evenly over the top.
5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly.
“The healthy substitutions made to this recipe give you more vitamin B, C and E, as well as increased amounts of iron, riboflavin, and thiamin and lower levels of copper and pantothenic acid,” said Tolbert. “Making this a healthier casserole to fix for holiday gatherings.”