FEATURE — Food is often the center of the holidays. Food is a wonderful thing, but can you have too much of a wonderful thing? When it comes to food, the answer is yes.

Stock image | Photo courtesy of USU Extension Create Better Health blog, St. George News

Overeating is easy to do during the holiday season. One simple way to prevent overeating is to eat more mindfully. Mindful eating is simply being aware of what you are putting in your mouth and paying attention to how it affects your body, feelings and mind. With food right in front of you, it can become more difficult to eat mindfully.

When you’re contemplating filling up another plate, take 10 before taking seconds.

Taking a few minutes to listen to your body after eating will help you clue in to your hunger cues. Talk with those sitting at the table with you. Drink some water. After 10 minutes, check in with how your body feels. Are you still hungry? Do you want another full plate? Do you want just another spoonful of your favorite dish? Or, are you actually full? Mindful eating isn’t about restricting yourself, or sticking to a certain diet. It’s all about listening to your body.

The American Heart Association tells us to make every bite a meditation. Here’s what they recommend:

Ponder: Check in with yourself about your hunger before you eat – you may actually be thirsty, bored or stressed.
Appraise: Take a moment to take it in. How does it smell? Do you really want it? Is it more than you need?
Slow: Slow down so your brain can keep up with your stomach. Put your fork down between bites and focus on the flavor.
Savor: Enjoy your food. Take a moment to savor the satisfaction of each bite – the taste, texture, everything!
Stop:  Stop when you’re full – there’s no need to join the clean plate club if it means overeating.

Another way to practice mindful eating is to enjoy your food as you’re eating it. How many times do you sit down to eat and feel rushed? Maybe the preparation time was stressful, your adrenaline is pumping and now you feel like you need to eat at warp speed. Maybe the pile of dishes in the sink is stressing you out, so you rush through your meal to hurry and tackle the mess. If you’re like me, you are worried about how much food the kids will throw on the floor, so you eat in a hurry to keep the mess to a minimum.

Stock image | Photo by Drazen Zigic/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

Whatever the reason, when you rush to eat you don’t take time to actually enjoy your food. Slowing down and enjoying what you’re eating will help you better clue in to your body’s hunger cues.The next time you sit down to eat a great meal, take time to ponder, appraise, slow down, savor and stop when full.

Here is Thanksgiving leftover casserole, a great recipe to practice with.

Don’t let all that leftover Thanksgiving turkey go to waste. Perhaps you stuck the leftovers in the freezer and need to use them up. This is the perfect recipe for just that. If you don’t have Brussels sprouts or sweet potatoes, use leftover corn or a bag of frozen veggies. You can find the herb blend seasoning recipe by clicking here. Enjoy!

This article originally appeared on Dec. 2, 2020, on the USU Extension Create Better Health blog.

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