Try eat­ing mind­fully these hol­i­days


SOME­THING odd can hap­pen over the fes­tive sea­son: some­how, that bloke in the red suit who slid down your chim­ney on Christ­mas Eve didn’t just leave gifts, he also mag­i­cally trans­formed your wardrobe to be­come one size smaller.

Your belt has to be let out a notch and shirt but­tons are strain­ing across your tummy. How un­com­fort­able. Why did this hap­pen? Well, psy­chol­o­gists have spent quite a bit of time watch­ing peo­ple eat.

Their stud­ies con­cluded that when we have food in front of us that tastes good, and there isn’t a rea­son to stop eat­ing, we hu­mans will tend to just keep eat­ing.

So you can quit, right now, blam­ing your over-eat­ing on your par­ents forc­ing you to fin­ish ev­ery­thing on your plate as a child.

Seems that we’re in­flu­enced by what peo­ple around us are do­ing, and we’re in­flu­enced by the avail­abil­ity of food.

We eat more when peo­ple around us are eat­ing more, and we ap­proach a buf­fet as though we haven’t eaten al­ready that week.

In prac­ti­cal terms, this means that when you’re fac­ing a huge buf­fet of de­li­cious food you’re likely to pile more on your plate.

And when you no­tice oth­ers are go­ing back for sec­onds, you are more likely to as well.

Dis­tracted by the good com­pany, you might not even no­tice you’re over-eat­ing.

It doesn’t help that many of us go to sev­eral cel­e­bra­tion meals over the Christ­mas Day and Box­ing Day hol­i­days, plus there are likely to have been sev­eral end-of-year work or com­mu­nity func­tions be­fore that, and then there’s the New Year’s Eve par­ties too.

So much yummy food over such a short pe­riod of time!

If that’s how our ap­petite is pro­grammed as hu­mans, then how can you make it more likely that you’ll fit com­fort­ably into your clothes af­ter the Christ­mas/ new year break?

One is to be aware that you have the ten­dency to eat more than you re­ally need, to try to re­duce the por­tion sizes on your plate, and re­sist the urge to re­turn to the buf­fet for sec­onds.

If you’re the host, you can make it eas­ier on your guests by pro­vid­ing plenty of salad and fresh fruit op­tions, and min­imis­ing the por­tion sizes of the re­ally rich foods like the pud­ding.

Try to man­age your fes­tive eat­ing dif­fer­ently this year, and you might not have to set­tle for wear­ing pants with elas­ti­cised waist­lines in Jan­uary.

We eat more when peo­ple around us are eat­ing more, and we ap­proach a buf­fet as though we haven’t eaten al­ready that week.

Olwen An­der­son is a c natur­opath and coun­sel­lor. www.ol­we­nan­der­

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