Mindfulness Tips to Survive the Holidays

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It’s December which means holiday treats are right around the corner. I feel like no matter what life brings, this time of year always involves all the decadent foods everywhere I look. As much as I love all the cookies, cakes, homemade mac & cheese, and more, I feel much better when I can find some type of balance in my day to day meals. This doesn’t mean skipping those foods completely. In fact, did you know you can enjoy your special foods, and still stay healthy? Using some mindful eating strategies from Megan Haubenreiser at essmweighless.com, you can get the most out of the season and not miss those foods you love, while staying on a healthy track.

Mindful eating is a powerful tool that can help you become more aware of the foods you eat. Mindful eating simply means paying close attention, enjoying every bite, and being hyper-aware of the entire eating experience. Below are a few strategies that can help you be more mindful so you can fully enjoy a healthy happy holiday.

  1. Determine Which Foods are “Calorie Worthy” to You
  • Imagine your food calorie budget like your financial budget. We do not have unlimited money to spend, just like we don’t have unlimited calories to consume, so pick the foods that you enjoy the most.
  • Determine if a food is one of your favorite food items and/or if it is packed with nutrients to help you decide whether to fit it into your calorie budget.
  • Let it go if you don’t like it; just because it is on your plate does not mean you have to finish it.
  • One-bite studies show that people who just consumed one bite of a certain food satisfied their craving just as much as the people who ate the entire food item.
  1. Survive Holiday Parties
  • I know these are being drastically reduced this year, but regardless of the “gathering,” it’s helpful to keep these few tips in mind. Whether it’s an office floating luncheon or a to-go appreciation lunch, these tips can still stick no matter the occasion.
  • Determine if this party will be your lunch or dinner and eat accordingly beforehand. If it is going to be your full meal, have a small healthy snack like an apple with peanut butter before the party. If it is not going to be your meal, eat something more filling before attending like whole-wheat toast with avocado.
  • Remember that the buffet is not necessarily your buffet. The variety and amount of foods on the table are there to provide enough options for guests to be able to find something they like. Zero-in on your favorites instead of trying everything.
  • Position yourself away from the food and drinks. Studies show that the closer you are to the food table, the more likely you are to eat even if you are not hungry.
  1. Sleep – Don’t Skip It!
  • Stick with your normal routine even during the holidays to try to get at least 7-8 hours each night. Sleeping too little has been associated with increased appetite and decreased physical activity.
  • Avoid caffeine late in the afternoon or evening.
  • Limit alcohol or heavy foods late at night.
  • Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary by turning off electronics and maintaining a cool temperature.
  1. Stay Active
  • Try out a new physical activity with the time you may have off from work or school.
  • Reduce stress with physical activity. Changes in schedules may allow you to vary your typical exercise times. Try yoga in the morning or take a long walk around lunch time.
  • Stay active to burn off holiday eating – even mindful holiday eating can mean more calories than we need.

Use these tips however they fit your holiday season. Even applying a few of them can help you stay on track. Lastly, don’t forget to reach out to those you love during this season. A card or a phone call can go a long way!

Try out this delicious recipe from my favorite food blogger, Lille Eats and Tells. You can find more of her recipes on her website. This is such an easy dish to make. It may seem like the ingredients list is long, but most of the ingredients are things that you can find in your pantry!

Sloppy Joe Skillet

Serves 8


  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 ½ lb ground turkey (opt for the leaner option if it’s available)
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • pinch of red pepper flakes


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with a mist of olive oil. Add the onion and cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bell pepper and cook for two more minutes. Push the veggies to the sides of the pan, so that you can let the middle of the pan get hot again. Add the ground turkey and salt. Let the turkey sit for a minute to brown, then break it up, combining with the veggies until it’s all browned.
  2. Add the garlic, liquid smoke, and tomato paste. Mix in and cook for one more minute.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredients (Dijon, chili powder, paprika, vinegar, tomato sauce, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes). Reduce heat to low, and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Serve over rice, spaghetti squash, or on a bun!

Just the skillet is:

  • 142 calories
  • 4g fat
  • 10g carbs
  • 18g protein
  • 2g fiber