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November 17, 2011 at 8:00 AMComments: 6 Faves: 0

Eating Mindfully Throughout the Holidays

By Jessica Corwin MPH RDN More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Dietitian's Dish Blog Series

It is the holiday season and of course we all want to treat ourselves to the delicious foods that abound during our festive gatherings - and indulge we shall! However, as a nutritionist, I do have some advice. Rather than piling your plate(s) a mile high with everything you see, why not save yourself some calories?

Make your choices based on your true desires and treasure each and every morsel.You can easily take control of the amount you eat by truly focusing on your food.

Come with Favorites in Mind

First, ask yourself what foods you are most looking forward to at your upcoming holiday celebration. If your mom’s scalloped corn (Yum!) or grandma’s sweet potato casserole come to mind, then make sure you serve yourself a reasonable portion while skipping over some of the other options that you are not as excited about. Alternatively, if you were to fill your plate with a small amount of everything else, you would quickly reach your calorie limit. Further, while you will be physically full, your mind will still have you craving the indulgences (scalloped corn, sweet potato casserole, etc.) you were most looking forward to. 

In most cases, you will end up reaching for that additional helping even though your stomach is already at capacity. Following this route will inevitably lead to a sluggish body and mind, preventing you from getting up off of the couch for the rest of the night.

Slow Down!

So, instead of stuffing yourself silly with the foods that you feel you should eat, satisfy your cravings by opting for a small serving of your favorites – and if you still have room, fill the rest of your plate with a green salad or fresh fruit. Then as you sit down to eat, remember to s-l-o-w down and actually savor that incredible flavor. Doing so will help you to fully indulge in a mindful manner, enabling your body to relay the message onto your mind that yes, you are eating.

Mindful eating helps us learn to hear what our body is telling us about hunger and satisfaction. By slowing down, you will actively pay attention to what you are doing, placing your mind and body in sync for a sound recognition of when you are actually full.

While you are savoring your meal with your loved ones you have a great opportunity to slow down without seeming to obvious. One of the easiest ways to slow down your meal is by chatting it up with your friends and family. Taking the time to ask Uncle John about his upcoming snowmobiling adventure will not only make his day, it will also provide your body with the time it needs to recognize when you are actually full (this takes at least 20 minutes!).

Now with all of this talk about holiday favorites, I could not possibly go on without sharing my own: sweet potato casserole (with pecans not marshmallows) and scalloped corn (yes, made with Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix). My mouth is watering just thinking about them! While I have attempted to lighten up each recipe over the years (less brown sugar, low-fat sour cream, etc.) I would rather enjoy a healthy portion of the real thing than any amount of a not-so-tasty version.

Plus, they do contain vegetables... ;)

In light of thanksgiving, I wanted to share a delicious and nutritious recipe for one of my ultimate favorites: sweet potato casserole.

I hope you enjoy this delicious twist on the classic recipe from one of my favorite bloggers. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

YIELD: 6 – 7 SIDE ITEM SERVINGS

Casserole Ingredients

  • 2 medium to large sweet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons butter, preferably unsalted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Topping Ingredients

  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter, preferably unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Peel, cube and boil sweet potatoes until tender. If you cut the cubes small enough (1 ½” to 2”) they shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. Drain potatoes.
  3. Add the butter, vanilla, milk, egg and syrup to potatoes and mash/mix together by hand with a potato masher or fork or you can use an electric mixer.
  4. Transfer mashed potato mixture to a square casserole dish.
  5. Mix together the pecans and flour for the topping. Melt the butter and syrup together and stir into the pecan mixture.
  6. Evenly spread pecan topping on top of the potatoes in casserole dish.
  7. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Now that I have shared my holiday favorites, what are the treats you are most looking forward to?

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6 Comments

  • This stood out to me, "Mindful eating helps us learn to hear what our body is telling us about hunger and satisfaction." I never really thought about it in that way before. In the past couple years, I actually have been using that tactic at holiday meals. I eat just enough with small portions. And then 3-4 hours later I will get a little hungry, go back and eat just a small portion. Maybe it's because I normally eat small portions in my day-to-day life. I've gotten used to that routine and carry it over to holiday eating.

    As always, thanks for a great blog Jessica!

  • A friend of mine on a diet told me awhile back about how he picked and chose what he ate based on it' worth to him in calories. Badly cooked food, old food, food he wasn't REALLY enjoying, he said he just stopped eating.

    I liked this a lot.

    It's not about one right or wrong choice, it's about spending your calories wisely. For example, I've said many times, turning down a sugar, calorie filled can of soda, I'd just rather EAT my calories than DRINK them! :)

  • Sounds like you're doing a great job, Bri!

    Erin, I'm right there with you on the drink vs. chew your calories. Though I am a sucker for a good breakfast smoothie or glass of chocolate silk... ;)

  • You are spot on, Erin! Your diet is a bank account, the calories that go in, must equal the calories going out. If not, your waistline with show the resulting excess or reductions.

  • Great blog, Jessica! That recipe sounds delicious. :)

    I know the temptation is strong to take a little bit (or a lot) of everything at Thanksgiving. In the past I've been pretty good in past years about just taking a little tiny bit of everything I want, but I like your method better. And Erin, love your friend's method and your take on it - I would rather eat my calories, too :)

    Jessica, have you ever tried Silk's dark chocolate almond milk?

  • Laura - Yes, I have tried Silk's almond dark chocolate AND their holiday soy egg nog :) LOVE being able to mix things up! Though if you are not getting very much protein in your diet, do keep in mind that the almond versions do contain much less protein (1g vs. 5g).

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