Eat mindfully, not mindlessly, this new year

You don’t have to avoid your favourite treats during the festive season and feel miserable about yourself. Eat mindfully, intuitively, and you’ll remain healthy and happy.

The start of the new year means lots of feasting, which more often than not, leads to weight (and body fat) gain. The festive food environment can be especially daunting to people who have had a history of dieting, eating disorders, or who grapple with emotional or stress eating. It is hard for most of us to eat healthy amidst the festivity, as we cannot resist the temptation to stop eating our favourite treats. Pineapple tarts, bak kwa, peanut biscuits, and the list goes on.

Well, the good news is we can still enjoy our favourite holidays foods, but do it in moderation. Mindful and intuitive techniques can help prevent overindulgence and hence weight gain, while increasing your enjoyment and satisfaction during the lunar new year or any festive season.

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Choose what you love and eat it

Mindful and intuitive eating can help us avoid eating just about anything and everything, as well as prevent the pendulum swing from foods restriction to excess. It is important to not limit your favourite festive foods, as the allure of the forbidden treats will only get stronger and this increases the chance of overeating.

Mindful and intuitive eating means choosing the favourite festive foods to consume, and not eating the rest. This method increases foods satisfaction, while preventing weight gain. For example, when we allow ourselves to have and enjoy a few slices of bak kwa, we will be more likely to decline the peanut cookies next offered to us. You might even want to take a moment to reflect on your favourite foods before you head out to visit your family and friends, and make room for those foods. Make a mental note to avoid treats that are not on your list.

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Set your intention to feel better

Mindful eating is eating with intention and attention, or purpose and awareness. Set your intention to feel better when you are done than you did when you started, then eat with attention to your food and your body.

Mindful eating uses all our senses to choose food that is both satisfying and nourishing, acknowledging responses to food likes, dislikes or neutral. It is about becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues so as to guide decisions about when to begin and end eating. Intuitive eating uses cues from our body system on what and how much to eat, and how that feels physically and emotionally. These are practices that take time to cultivate.

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Never skip meals

Do not make the mistake of trying to compensate for special festive treats by skipping breakfast, lunch or dinner. Being too hungry at a party or while visiting your loved ones makes it more likely for one to overeat. Also, at parties or other holiday gatherings, sit or stand where extra food is not constantly in the line of sight. You should also use smaller plates, bowls and glasses to fill them with foods and drinks instead.

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