Simplifying the Season

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, I find myself circling back towards a simpler way of living.

I haven’t had a ton of holiday indulgences, but there’s something about this time of year that makes me want to cut back in order to balance out the excess of the season. I don’t know if this is something others experience, but for me, fasting a bit and eating simple, clean foods goes hand in hand with the holidays. So when I’m not celebrating or eating out, I’m trimming back on my usual vices to balance things out.

Now, I don’t know how long that will last because I’m coming up on my own personal holiday triathlon: my birthday, followed in rapid succession by Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Add on top of that the fact that I’m going home (where sweet and snacks abound), then on a ski trip to New Hampshire, and I’ll have more than my fair share of obstacles to overcome before the year is done.

But I’m not worrying about it. I’m not going beat myself up for occasional indulgences because I have every right to celebrate my birthday and enjoy the holidays with family and friends. Instead, I’m focusing on getting in tune with my body and understanding its wants and needs. Body really does know best when it comes to food (and everything else, really), but the problem is that we habitually ignore those signals. If you’ve ever eaten way beyond the point of satisfaction and starved yourself the next day to make up for it, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

That’s not to say that I’m going to really let loose and pick up the slack in the New Year. It’s more about indulging on the things I really enjoy, but not full speed, so that I don’t really have to make drastic cuts come January. Life is meant to be savored, and you can’t spend every minute worrying about whether a dinner out will add to your waistline. So this holiday season I’m going to be thankful for time spent with friends and family, and let that be the primary focus instead of food and drink. Besides, what better way to close out the year and ring in the new one than having spent it in a meaningful way with those you love?

I truly believe that mindfulness is the key to a happy and healthy holiday season, and life, for that matter. No diet or exercise is as effective in helping you avoid holiday weight gain and overindulgence as an aware and present mind. So, I’ve rededicated myself to mindful eating – really enjoying and savoring my food (even the clean, simple meals) and gauging how I feel to find that moment when I’m satisfied, but not stuffed. And, most importantly, enjoying the overall, 360 degree experience of enjoying a meal – from talking with loved ones to savoring the smells to taking in the sight of a holiday feast. There is so much more to food than food, and the holidays are the perfect time to practice a balanced approach.

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