Try eating mindfully this holiday season
Living Naturally with Olwen Anderson
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.