03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Mindful Eating Through The Holidays And Beyond

With the holidays upon us, we are challenged with temptation at every turn. Changing your attitude about nourishing the incredible machine that is your body is key to maintaining a happy and balanced approach to enjoying your healthy practices.

Contrary to the popular attitude that the highest fom of holiday pleasure from Thanksgiving through the New Year is to overindulge at every opportunity, implementing some measure of sense and self-control will encourage self-esteem and feeling great through the holidays. Reminding yourself that a sensible portion is far less than what most of us consider an appropriate holiday meal is vital to instilling a reasonble sense of responsibility for your body's well-being.

Breathing exercises can do wonders to re-center your body and reset hunger cues based on triggers rather than real hunger.

If you feel a feeding frenzy coming on, try taking several belly breaths.

Practice placing your hands on your lower abdomen, just below your navel. Without collapsing your chest, press the breath down into your belly allowing it to expand as fully as possible. Be sure that your ribcage is expanding side to side, forward and back, so that the trunk column is full of air. Release the breath as slowly or more slowly than you sucked it in. Repeat at least five times.

Now, try taking a few sips of water and feeling your body. Marvel at the muscles, tissue and bone that make you incarnate. Think now about what you would like to put into your mouth to fuel this amazing vehicle that is charged with carrying you about. Remember, your body is yours forever. It is the only thing that certainly won't change the whole way through your time on this earth. Honoring and caring for it is the highest expression of self-love and reverence for the gift of life you can have.

Another temptation is to starve all day in preparation for an evening holiday party. Unfortunately, the propensity to sip cocktails as a first course tends to lend itself ot poor decisions afterward. Even if you don't drink, by the time your party rolls around, your saucer eyes will be in full effect, bidding you to eat everything in site to quell your stomach's urgings.

Some mid/late afternoon snack suggestions to curb your appetite a bit and rev your metabolic rate:

A cup of plain lowfat yogurt with half of a banana or some berries

A piece of sprouted wheat bread smudged with hummus or avocado and a slice or two of roasted turkey meat

String cheese and a green apple

A handful of almonds and a slice or cube of your favorite cheese

A cup of tomato, miso, lentil or broth-based soup without cream or butter

A decaffeinated, non-fat mocha or latte

A pintos and cheese cup

All of the above contain some protein, low calories and at least a marginal bit of nutrition.

Once you're at the party, skip the bread courses and stick to the items most closely resembling their place in nature. The less processed and primped your food is, the better it will serve your nutritional and hunger needs. You'll find that, eating lean proteins and vegetables will curb your appetite more quickly than the bready, starchy courses can.

Slow down. Pause between bites. Step away from the treats table. Be the last one served and use smaller bites to extend the time spent on your first serving. Remember: it's not about depravation, it's about balance and moderation.

If you do overindulge, don't beat yourself up with the defeatist all or nothing mentality. Every little bit helps when it comes to health, nutrition and diet. Do you best. Enjoy your body and your holiday. Here's to your health and happiness!