Katelyn Jordan ’16, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator
Fall is in full swing, bringing visions of beautiful leaves, cozy sweaters, and pumpkin spice everything! One of the best parts though, is the food and the opportunity to enjoy all of the holiday feast favorites. Moderation is especially important at this time of year. However, there’s no reason to sacrifice your favorite foods in order to make your holidays a little healthier. Instead, eating mindfully allows your body the sustenance it requires and allows you to enjoy your food guilt-free.
The following are some easy habits you can practice to help you consciously enjoy your meal and not feel as stuffed as the turkey afterwards.
Listen to your Hunger/Fullness Signals
While people often listen to external signals for when and how much to eat (such as the time of day, portion size, or what the people around them are eating), your body provides internal signals to tell you what it wants and needs. It’s important to take a moment to focus on how your body feels and what it is telling you. For example:
- When you seek out food, are you just a bit hungry? Or light-headed and starving?
- After a meal, do you feel pleasantly satisfied? Or uncomfortably full?
Asking these questions is a good habit that will help you get acquainted with your body’s needs before and after eating. Before each eating occurrence, rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10, (1 being starved and 10 being stuffed). An optimal time to eat is when you feel you are between a 3 and 4, and stop eating around a 6 or 7.
Know your Options Before Filling your Plate
If you make your own plate during the holidays, be sure to scope out all of the different options before you start serving yourself. It’s easy to fill your plate with foods that you like before seeing the big platter of something you love! Knowing what the options are ahead of time allows you to prioritize your favorites, which can help you avoid overeating.
Focus on your Food
When you eat, be sure to pay attention to your food. Look at your plate, and pay conscious attention to the taste, texture, colors, and how the food makes you feel. It’s very easy to finish a huge plate of food while watching the football game without even remembering most of what you just ate! Mindless munching can lead to overeating and feeling uncomfortably full. Don’t forget those hunger/fullness signals!
If you’d like more ideas and guidance in improving your overall diet, take advantage of the free Nutrition Coaching Service at the University Health Center. To reserve your session, call 301-314-5664 or email UHC-Nutrition@umd.edu.