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This Thanksgiving, Save the Stuffing for the Turkey

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The key to thriving during the holidays (and beyond) is to love food more. While this advice may seem counterintuitive, when you love to eat, it pays to act like it! By eating mindfully, you'll eat less while enjoying it even more.

One way to become more mindful about eating is to pretend that you are writing an article about your Thanksgiving meal for a gourmet food magazine. Use this guide to help you tune into the entire experience (from chapter six of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat).

  • Focus on the people you're sharing your meal with. Engage in interesting conversations, ask questions, and really listen to your companions.
  • Before eating, notice how hungry you are. If you aren't hungry, become aware of the reasons you feel like eating anyway. If it is for social reasons, then be social for a while longer, knowing that there will be plenty of opportunities to eat when you get hungry.
  • Decide how you want to feel when you're done eating. Stuffed and miserable? Or comfortable and content? Then fill your plate (or order) accordingly.
  • Mentally describe the table setting and the ambiance. Notice the aromas, colors, textures, and presentation of the meal.
  • Before eating, take a moment to be truly thankful about where your food came from, including all the people who invested their time, effort, and talent to get it from farm to plate.
  • Choose food carefully by asking yourself what you really want and need to eat. Don't waste your appetite on cranberry sauce shaped like a can if you don't love it!
  • Notice the aromas; that is where most of the unique flavors of food come from.
  • Put one small bite in your mouth. You only have taste buds on your tongue so the flavors of a large bite of food are lost on your teeth, cheeks, and the roof of your mouth.
  • Pay attention to the texture and flavors of the food on your tongue, then slowly begin to chew the food. Breathe while you chew since flavors other than salty, sweet, bitter, and sour actually come from the aromas.
  • Set your fork down between bites. If you put a bite of food in your mouth then immediately begin to load your next forkful, your attention will be on the next bite. And if you are focused on the next bite of food instead of the one you are eating now, you won't stop eating until there are no more forkfuls left to load.
  • Sit for a moment and let the flavors and experience linger before you take the next bite.
  • Notice as the food gently fills your stomach. Pause for several minutes in the middle of eating to reconnect with your hunger and fullness levels and enjoyment of the meal.
  • Food is abundant this time of year (actually, year-round for most of us!). Remind yourself that you can eat more later or at another meal, so there's no need to eat as though food was scarce. When you eat it all now, you risk ruining an enjoyable meal by being too full.

There will be many opportunities to practice mindful eating during this holiday season. You'll be thankful that you did!

What steps will you take to enjoy your Thanksgiving meal more while eating less?

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