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Importance of Mindful Eating During the Holidays

With the holidays right around the corner, Monarch therapists Dr. Karen S. Holst, MSW, LCSW, Ed.D. and Jude Johnson, MA, LMFT share why savoring your meals is key.


The rush of the holidays often adds more stress to our already busy lives, along with plenty of opportunities to overeat during parties and family gatherings.

During the holidays we often overeat in an effort to distract us from uncomfortable thoughts or feelings we may be experiencing in the moment; similar to smoking or having a drink. Johnson and Holst say that just as with using cigarettes or alcohol to help us manage what is currently going on in our minds, chronic eating can lead to undesirable consequences that affect our overall health and wellbeing.

Not feeling good about ourselves can influence how often we eat, or if we are using food to distract us from uncomfortable thoughts or feelings. This can lead to a cycle; a vicious habit, and in these cases, eating is no longer associated with reducing hunger or providing nutrients to our bodies, it’s about avoidance, an attempt to push away what is actually happening in the mind.

With an abundance of sweets and holiday foods, it’s important to focus and eat mindfully, and try to stick to your regular routines of exercise and sleep. Loading up on too many holiday sweet treats, full of carbohydrates and sugars, can throw your system and moods out of balance, but eating mindfully helps you to focus on the moment, enjoy what you are eating and savor the time you get to share with family and friends.

Oftentimes, combating overeating and stress eating during the holidays is hard, we feel like we have to rush through a meal so we can get to the next task or cross something else off our holiday to-do list. But eating mindfully is a simple way to fight that urge, and give the gift of being in the present moment to yourself to enjoy your favorite holiday foods and traditions without overeating.

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