Mindfulness and Health for the Holidays
The holiday season is upon us, and all too often we are enticed to overindulge not only in food, but also in consumerism. Last month we were bombarded with Black Friday sales and special offers. And holiday tables are typically crowded with far more food than the guests could possibly consume in one meal. We tend to get caught up in consuming mindlessly, only to regret it when we are far more stuffed than the unwilling centerpiece on the table, or when the credit card bill arrives in January.
To help you maintain your healthy, mindful lifestyle during the holiday season, I have compiled some strategies for you.
When it Comes to Eating Mindfully…
- Eat SLOWLY – it takes the brain 20 minutes to register satiety, so often we are full before we weven realize it.
- CHEW your food! Chewing is the first stage of the digestive process, and a very important one at that. The saliva releases enzymes that initiate the digestion of starches and fats. Chewing also triggers a response in the stomach to produce the necessary acids to digest the food.
- Put your fork (or spoon) down after each mouthful. This will help you remember to chew and eat more slowly.
- If you think you will be tempted to eat foods that don’t support your wellness goals, have a healthy snack or meal BEFORE you leave home.
- Bring your own healthy dish when attending parties.
- Focus on socializing and connecting with friends and family rather than eating
- Decide ahead of time which foods you choose not to eat. For me, it’s easy – being vegan, I don’t eat anything that comes from an animal. This strategy narrows down what you will choose from the buffet table considerably.
- Commit to only one dessert, or if you must, a sliver of two. Choose wisely!
When it Comes to Gifts…
- The gift of your time is very meaningful. You can create “love”coupons to be redeemed during the year for anything. Some ideas include preparing favorite foods, babysitting or pet sitting, raking leaves, planting a garden, providing a ride to or from the airport – use your creativity here. The coupons can be wrapped mindfully in a recycled jewelry box or use any of the ideas in the alternative gift wrapping section below. Printable coupons can be found on the BuyNothingChristmas website.
- Make a donation in honor of the gift recipient. You may sponsor an animal (Farm Sanctuary or a local animal shelter), sponsor a child (numerous organizations online), plant a tree (the Arbor Day Foundation or the Jewish National Fund) , support a local cause that helps community and the environment (one of my favorites is Seeds of Solidarity), support microloans (Kiva offers gift certificates) – these are only a few suggestions.
- Gift certificates for services or entertainment – these may be of a more personal nature, for example – spa services (massage, sauna, foot bath, manicure/pedicure…), classes or workshops (yoga, cooking, dance, whatever the recipient may enjoy), dinner at a favorite restaurant; or more practical – housekeeping, yard work, car maintenance.
- Shop with a conscience. Give gifts that are made people-friendly and earth-friendly ways. For example, fair trade items like coffee, tea and/or chocolate, gifts from Ten Thousand Villages, providing fair income for handicrafts made by Third World artisans, reusable items or those made from recycled materials.
When it Comes to Gift Wrapping…
- Use reusable gift bags – I always save gift bags to reuse. If you don’t have any handy, a reusable shopping bag is a great way to wrap a gift and something that helps reduce waste all year long.
- Use newspaper or magazines
- Use fabric – you can either wrap a gift in fabric or make a reusable gift bag.
- Use ribbon made from natural materials like waxed hemp twine or raffia.
- Make your own natural decorations like pine cones and sprigs of holly.
- Pack food or small items in mason jars. These can be reused for storage. Throw in a 6-inch square of screening material (available from a hardware store) and the jar can be reused to grow sprouts.
- Additional resources: http://eartheasy.com/gift_wrapping.htm and http://life.gaiam.com/article/top-10-green-gift-wrap-ideas
What do you do to support mindfulness and health during the holiday season? Please share your strategies in the comments below.