Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mindful Eating During the Holidays

The average American gains 10-15 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years - not surprising since so much of the holidays are centered around food. Going to parties, cookie swaps, work and school functions, big, elaborate meals - you can gain weight just thinking about all the soirees you might possibly attend! For many it is a joyful time to be around friends and family, celebrating with good cheer and decadent food, but for others it can be a highly emotional time. Some may be suffering a loss of a loved one or perhaps they are not able to be with family during the holidays due to work or other committments. It is possible during this time that some turn to food for comfort and to relieve some of the stress that the holiday time often brings. Unfortunately, most of the comfort food that we often turn to, to soothe our soul can wreak havoc on our waistlines, tends to heighten depression and may bring on craving for more sugary, starchy food. All the cookies, pies and decadent desserts that are so abundant during this time of year, along with Holiday stuffing and mashed potatoes can send us into a spiral soon after the feast ends. So often, we indulge to the point of having to unbutton our pants, shortly going back to the kitchen for round two and then feel disgusting and mad at ourselves for overindulging at yet another function. So, what can one do so that we can still enjoy and partake in all the delicious food options, but still like ourselves the next morning?
  1. Be mindful of what you are eating. Scan the buffet table before you actually start to dig in. Pick a few items that really make your mouth water and take reasonable amounts of each. Savor, relish and actually enjoy what you are eating, instead of trying to scarf it down and get to the next buffet item. After you are done put your plate down, grab a beverage and mingle. Chat it up with friends without worrying about the possibility that there may be spinach stuck in your teeth or you may be stuck with a too big bite in your mouth when someone is trying to converse with you.
  2. Take the focus off of food and be grateful for your blessings. Think about all the wonderful positives in your life and be thankful.
  3. Bring an item to a party or if you are entertaining at home, make a few dishes that you know that you can indulge in without regret. My favorite is mashed cauliflower that is a great stand-in for mashed potatoes. It has all the creamy richness, but without all the heavy calories and starch that potatoes have, plus it will help keep cravings for more starch at bay. Here's the recipe...

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower, rinsed and trimmed

1 T butter

1/8 tsp sea salt

Splash of 1/2 & 1/2

Steam cauliflower in a pot with water and a steamer basket for 20-30 minutes, until tender. Remove cauliflower from steamer basket, drain water from pot and place cauliflower back into pot. Add butter, salt and 1/2 & 1/2 and use a hand held immersion blender to puree, using quick pulses. Can also use a blender or food processor instead of an immersion blender. Serves four as a side dish.

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