Mindful Eating Tips for the Holidays

Mindful eating tips for your holiday season from Marisa Tamasi RD, CDE.

Food is a big part of the holidays. Whether we are going to a holiday gathering or going to the grocery store, we are surrounded by lots of delicious, tempting holiday foods and treats at this time of year. No wonder it is a challenge to stay on track over the holiday season and even more so for those living with kidney disease who need to follow a special diet.

One way to keep to your nutrition goal is to practice mindful eating. Mindfulness means to become more aware and be in the moment. When we apply mindfulness to eating, it means becoming aware of how our body feels, our emotions and our thoughts while we are eating.

Tips on how you can practice mindful eating on a regular basis:

  • Chew your foods slowly. Try to chew each bite of food roughly 30 times to enjoy the flavour of the foods you may not have noticed before.
  • Put down your utensils after each bite of food. Wait until you have enjoyed and swallowed what you already have in your mouth before picking up your utensils with the next bite of food.
  • Limit distractions while eating. Turn off the TV and avoid using your cell phone or tablets at meal times. These distractions take away from our eating experience and you may miss signs of fullness, causing you to overeat.
  • Sit down at the table to eat. Try not to do other tasks at mealtimes.
  • Check to see how hungry you are before you eat. Often, we eat for other reasons than because we are hungry. We eat because the food is in front of us or something triggers us to eat, such as being bored, upset or stressed. Before eating ask yourself “why am I eating?” and “how hungry am I on a scale of 1 to 10?”.
  • Keep a food diary. By recording what you eat, you are more likely to stay on track and make more kidney friendly food choices.
  • Control “cheat” foods. You can have a small portion of a food on the “limit” list, as long as you can keep it small – just have enough to satisfy a craving.

Mindfulness Tips for the Holidays:   

  • When going to a holiday potluck or dinner, bring a dish that you can safely have and enjoy.
  • If you are going out to a restaurant, ask your server how the food is prepared. If possible, ask that they not add salt to your food and request dressings, gravies and sauces to be served on the side.
  • Double boil pumpkin, sweet potatoes and white potatoes to reduce potassium and make your own broth, stuffing, salad dressing and dips to help reduce salt.
  • Choose a smaller plate at gatherings or a buffet. If you have a bigger plate, you are more likely to fill up the entire plate with food. By using a smaller plate, you are less likely to overeat.
  • Before taking a plate through the buffet line, look at the food choices first. That way, you know what your favourite items are, and you can make better choices.
  • Try to avoid going to events or gatherings hungry. You are more likely to overeat. Instead of skipping meals to save calories for a holiday meal or event, act like you would on any other day.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol consumed. Alcohol is high in calories and fluid.

Try some of these tried-and-try holiday classics for your kidney-friendly holiday dishes!

Try this turkey recipe and remember, there are many low-sodium turkey seasonings that pair nicely with a home-made cranberry stuffing. Tip: Try this casserole recipe for your turkey leftovers!

Finding alternative, salt-free recipes instead of pre-made soups and sauces is a great way to start turning your holiday meals kidney-friendly.

Use fresh herbs and lemon to spice your meals and remove salt from your recipes. A low salt diet is good for everyone in your family and most meals can be adjusted to remove the salt.

Shake things up with this cranberry risotto as a fun side-dish!

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