Mindful Eating During the Holidays - Tips from Top Health and Wellness Experts

Mindful eating during the holidays. How to avoid the guilt that often comes with holiday eating and have a plan that leaves you feeling happy, guilt free, and able to enjoy the holidays. Tips for success from top health and wellness experts, and fellow moms! 

The holidays can be a tricky time when it comes to nutrition. It usually goes one of two ways. Either you feel in control and happy because you have a good plan in place for making it through, or you decide you’ll change on January 1st and give yourself permission for a holiday free-for-all.


A lot of times we struggle to feel in control over food during the holidays because it’s so available everywhere we go. We go to parties with food, we attend events with food, we have neighbors bringing us food as gifts, and the list goes on.


Because navigating nutrition during the holidays is something that many of us struggle with, I’ve reached out to some of my nearest and dearest friends in the health and fitness industry for help.


So, today’s post is for you to learn from other women and mothers about how they find balance during the holidays (and all year round!). In fact, if you’re reading this in February or August, these tips still apply. It’s all about finding a healthy balance with food that works for your lifestyle.


Also, don’t forget to grab your guilt free holiday workbook. It’s packed with all the tools you need and a step by step guide to helping you overcome some of the most difficult challenges we face with food such as emotional and stress eating, portion control and free for all eating, and feeling confident and in control at parties and events.



Monica Pic.png
It’s just a normal day. Breathe. You can always have it later.

MONICA PACKER - aboutprogress.com  


Navigating holiday eating doesn’t have to be traumatizing. They used to cause me panic attacks, but now I view big meals and celebrations like any other Sunday dinner.  All it takes is some time and retraining your thoughts.

Here are three phrases and their related teachings that I like to keep in mind as I approach what could be a highly-charged meal:


“It’s just a normal day.” 

Instead of exercising for hours or starving myself on a particular holiday, I treat those big meal days as normally as I can.  I do a hard-but-normal workout—yes.  I eat a lighter breakfast/snack—sure.  I think ahead of time about what things I’d actually love to eat—most definitely.  But I don’t give the feast so much pressure that I’m doomed for failure.



If my thoughts start racing, I’m overthinking everything, or I notice myself slipping into numbness, I remind myself to take a deep breath and recenter.  What do I want this meal to be about?  What do I really want to enjoy? Everyone is breathing around you, so you can do this as many times as you need!


“You can always have it later.”  

Perhaps I just had a piece of pie and my instinct is telling me to grab another as fast as I can, and then another.  I override those ways of thinking by remembering that I can in fact have another piece later—maybe when my tummy is less full and I enjoy it more, or even months down the road.  Who says you can’t make Grandma’s fudge in the middle of July?!  You most certainly can.  

If this is new for you, hold tight.  It gets easier and in time these ways of thinking will be like second-nature.  I have more tips/phases for you on my website too, if you’re needing just a little extra help.  www.aboutprogress.com  Enjoy your feasts!!


Meg Pic.png
For me, life and eating is all about balance, and that includes some chocolate every once in a while.

MEG MILES - momstrongutah.com


Here are my tips for staying in control during the holidays while still enjoying the fun.


The "one favorite dessert" rule

Here's how this works. We all love dessert, but sometimes we're faced with a table FULL of it, and we end up overeating and feeling sick. I like the "favorite dessert rule" because I allow myself to choose my very favorite thing from that dessert table, and enjoy every bite, guilt-free. When I am thinking about choosing ONE dessert I will love, rather than bites from a few that I may not enjoy, it helps me to stay in control. So choose that favorite dessert of yours, walk away from the dessert table, and savor every bite.


Have a control word

When faced with all of the holiday food, have a word you can say to yourself, either mentally or out loud that will remind you to think before you eat. Mine is simply "control." When I say this to myself, I remember I am in control, that I don't have to go overboard, and that I can eat intuitively while I make clear and conscious food choices.


Don't be afraid to throw things away

I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but I have no problem in throwing away sweets that start to collect on my countertop during the holidays. Even the ones that arrive on my doorstep wrapped in a bow. Sometimes I think we eat that whole plate of cookies, or jar of caramels just because it's sitting there, or just so we don't "waste it." Well, have you ever thought of just getting rid of it all together? Maybe enjoying just one thing and getting rid of the rest? It's something to consider!


Leave the "all or nothing" approach at the door

It's easy to get caught up in the "all or nothing" approach. It's like once we have that cookie, we think to ourselves, 'Well I may as well have three or four now that I've blown it.' Well here's the truth. One cookie is NOT going to throw you off. Enjoy it, guilt-free, but know that it's totally possible to get right back on track again! Leave that "all or nothing" approach behind, and start to realize you're always in control. Life is about BALANCE, not perfection. For me, "balance" includes some chocolate every once in a while.


Rachel pic.png
This treat is always available to me.

RACHEL GAINER - rachelrebuilt.com


Hello, friends! I’m Rachel Gainer of @rachel_rebuilt. As we enter the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in feasting festivities or become overwhelmed by how to “stay on track.” I don’t believe it swearing off sweets or skipping social gatherings for the sake of healthy habits. Instead, I focus on nourishing my body, listening to my hunger, and enjoying guilt-free indulgences. Here are four tips to help you stay mindful and in tune with your body during holiday parties:


Indulge in what matters to you.

Resisting a food you REALLY want at the wrong time can lead to “avoidance overeating” (eating too many healthy calories to avoid the treat) or “delayed binging” (eating less-satisfying sugars to fill a lingering craving). Instead, choose foods that are physically and emotionally satisfying. Then eat slowly, savor the flavors, and stop when you feel gentle fullness.


Avoid FOMO feasting

One reason we overindulge during the holidays is that every gathering feels special. We don’t want to miss out on favorite foods, so we eat them even when we aren’t in the mood. To calm food FOMO, try thinking, “This treat is always available to me.” No today doesn’t mean no forever. You can always save a serving for tomorrow.


Practice self-trust

When we tell ourselves we can’t be trusted around food, we tend to become a self-fulfilling prophesy. But when we allow ourselves to eat a little and stop before our plate is empty, we nurture self-trust, eliminate food anxiety, and expend less willpower.


Own your decisions

When you own a decision, it empowers you. The choice to opt out doesn’t feel like a burden or a punishment. The choice to indulge doesn’t come with guilt or regret. Ownership increases mindfulness.


Alison Pic.png
Holidays are a time of celebration and togetherness, and food should be a fun part of that

ALISON BODEN - nourishingradiance.com


Don't think of "the holidays" as a season

Pick a few select days - maybe it's Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and a couple of holiday parties and enjoy whatever food you want on those days without guilt. And then as much as you can, try to eat normally and avoid splurge type foods on just regular days between events. This makes the indulgent foods at gatherings taste so much better because they'll come with less guilt and remorse. This way you also feel more in control of things when you have a plan in place.


Don't go to a party or other holiday gathering hungry

It's tempting to try to bank up a calorie deficit during the day so that you can feel more free to indulge later. But this almost always backfires and sets the stage for a pretty serious binge eating evening, especially if there's alcohol involved. Going to a party to see all of your favorite treats while your blood sugar is low and you haven't eaten as usual all day is a recipe for overeating. But if you have a nice balanced meal with a portion of protein, starch and fiber you are far less likely to leave overstuffed and full of guilt.


No matter how you’re doing on eating, never skip a workout!

CHEYENNE HAYES - @rise_above_distraction


During the holidays, so many events involve celebrating with food, and I don't want ever come across like "that girl" that is in the corner eating celery sticks.  

Be Intentional

Before I attend an event that will have food, I decide BEFORE I go whether I'm going to enjoy dessert or not (and that is often based on what the rest of my week has been like.  I don't have a problem eating a dessert here and there, but I've learned that for MYSELF, I can't ever eat sugary things back to back days.  If I do....that's when the cravings start).  


Use a dessert rating scale

Once I am AT a party or event, I have a rule that I always use.  I will look at the desserts being offered and decide if anything is rated a 9 or 10 for me (on a scale of 1-10).  There is nothing worse than eating when you said you wouldn't and realizing immediately afterwards that it wasn't even something you really like.  If there is a 9 or a 10 level dessert, I take a reasonable portion, ENJOY IT, and then drink some water and pop in a piece of gum afterwards, to just make sure I don't get carried away.  But if there is nothing that is a 9 or 10 for me, I just say NO, and hold out for another time where I can really enjoy something.  


Leftover treats are trouble

I also am careful not to have "treat" type things laying around the house all month long.  We are deliberate in our times of making cookies or fudge, share a ton of it with the neighbors, and then be done with it.  


Never skip a workout

And no matter how I'm doing on my eating routines, I make sure not to waiver on my work outs. Even if we have family around and such, there is nothing wrong with me slipping out of the house for a 30 minute run.  I just don't ever want to send the message to my body that I'll start taking care of it again in "January".