How to be Mindful at Family Gatherings
It’s hard enough to be mindful when you’re sitting down to eat by yourself. Adding family members to the mix and possible conversations about politics around the dinner table only makes it that much more difficult. Being mindful in these situations can certainly require some super-Jedi powers. Ah, the holiday season!!
Mindfulness, like any other skill, requires practice. My best piece of advice to those who want to create more mindfulness around their family gatherings is to start practicing NOW at every single meal!
A funny phenomenon exists when we think about our future selves. We often assume that our performance will be magically improved in the future without anything really changing.
How many of you have planned to start a new diet and have envisioned this future version of yourselves somehow eating perfectly when that Monday rolls around?
Change is of course very possible, and something I expect from my clients. However, it’s just not something that happens automatically. It’s practiced!
And mindfulness IS a practice.
Whether it’s mindfulness at the table specifically, OR mindfulness on the meditation pillow, in order to get better, you need to put the time in and do the work.
This is why I strongly recommend for you to start this practice before the “big day” or the week of time between Christmas Day and New Years Day that sometimes turns into a big cluster.
Some ideas for incorporating more mindfulness into your mealtimes include:
- Putting your phone or computer away (no scrolling)
- Dedicating a specific place to eat (I suggest your kitchen table) where you don’t do anything but (as opposed to your bed, couch, car, or even standing)
- Make it a game to notice specifics about your meal such as certain tastes or textures
- Create a ritual around it (include non-scented candles, placemats, etc.)
- Start the meal out with at least one or two deep breaths
- Use the questions on the Ate app!!!
Begin by paying a lot of attention to the food itself: the taste, texture, and smell. Try to notice something you haven’t before about a meal you might eat regularly. Take time to chew slowly, noticing how full you are along the way.
Once you have done this for most of your meals, you can then take that “practice” into your family dinner(s) throughout the holidays.
We also know from the data that being in a relaxed state ensures better digestion. When we are able to eat while relaxed, we activate our parasympathetic nervous system known as “rest and digest” instead of our sympathetic system: “fight or flight”. Try to keep that in mind when sitting down with family.
Finally, if you find it really difficult to stay mindful at family gatherings, just remember that these gatherings don’t last forever. (They actually represent a small blip in time, and aren’t really not worth getting too worked up about.) Plus, if there ever was an excuse for opting out of a family dinner, you have it! #pandemic2020 ☺ haha
Keep bringing yourself back to the “here and now”. Practice, practice, practice.
I hope you all enjoy the holiday season, regardless of what it looks like this year for you.
Hey there! I’m Stacy! I am certified in Holistic Nutrition and even though I am a nutrition nerd, I am actually a foodie at heart. My motto is: Be healthy, but enjoy life — just choose wisely!
In my current accountability practice, I help women take control of their own health through the use of real, whole foods, and assist them in creating (and sustaining) lifelong health habits so they can FINALLY get off that horrible diet-rollercoaster!
When I’m not coaching, eating, or trying out a new recipe, you might catch me hanging out with my amazing 11-yr old daughter, working out (I love barre and spin), or perhaps watching my favorite reality TV program, 90 Day Fiance!
I practice in my hometown of Calgary, AB but because most of my work is done online — I am available for consultations or coaching wherever it is that you happen to call home.