Feeding your heart and soul is the very essence of the holidays, and why there’s nothing more important than to celebrate these two elements.
For some, the holidays are the one time of the year that an entire family gathers. That’s when you cherish it the most, and revel in having the opportunity to love on your family in a way that brings you the greatest joy – through good food!
For others, however, the holidays can also be a little daunting, given the abundance of food that’s ever present all day long. Rather than worrying, there’s a better way to navigate through the festivities, by focusing on two key ‘nutrients’. These nutrients are superfoods of the heart, and they are limitless in their nourishing potential.
1. VITAMIN G – GRATITUDE
What better time to practice gratitude than during the holidays! Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness, as well as better physical and mental health. In fact, one study showed that being grateful particularly as we age, leads to better physical health. Those who practiced gratitude were more likely to engage in health-promoting behaviors, such as staying active, eating healthy, maintaining social support and visiting the doctor for regular checkups.
Gratitude is also a key component of mindful eating. The more gratitude we have for our bodies, the better our ability to eat more intuitively and properly nourish our bodies – to eat when we’re physically hungry, and not when we’re sad, bored, anxious, or experiencing an array of emotions.
Start by thanking your body for the miraculous gift that it is. Open your eyes and breathe into your body, bringing attention to it with loving kindness. Express gratitude for the ability to wake up, breath, walk, talk, taste and smell. Shift your thinking away from thoughts about what you should or shouldn’t eat, and simply pause and give thanks for having food on the table, for the hands that prepared it, and the opportunity to gather and share with friends and family. These are the beautiful things in life that we must not take for granted.
2. VITAMIN P – PLEASURE
Pleasure is essential to eating. It’s the vital component that makes our meals nutritionally complete. We are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain, and how we feel about our meal through our attitude or mental state we use to approach our meals can affect our digestion and nutrient absorption. When we eat too fast, without awareness, or with guilt, the central nervous system and our gut register only a minimal amount of pleasure. As a result, we are psychologically-driven to eat more and continue to seek pleasure.
In fact, restriction and denying certain foods only leaves you wanting them more. So, let go of guilt, and labeling foods as bad or good. Instead of denying yourself certain foods this holiday season, focus on the foods that you love and savor them. Slow down and experience each and every bite. Experience the texture, engage your senses, focus on the sensations of taste – sweet, sour, salty, umami. Keep coming back to the taste of your food and be fully present with it. Be as present for the last bite, as fully as you were for the first bite. As you’re eating, ask yourself if you’re still enjoying your food. If not, then stop. Give yourself permission to stop, even if there is still food on your plate.
After all, there will be plenty of leftovers tomorrow, the next day, and probably the next.
Vitamin G and Vitamin P are just as valuable to our health as protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals and water. Focus on these super nutrients of the heart and give yourself full permission to thoroughly enjoy every bite.
You deserve this time with family and friends!
Adapted from the original article.
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Basheerah Enahora, MBA, MS, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian based in Charlotte, NC with a private practice focused on helping women look past their weight as a measure of success and embrace a holistic, nourishing lifestyle. She empowers women to create embrace a better life by replacing neglect, shame, and negativity around food with self-love and proper nourishment. Learn more about Basheerah at BE Nutrition.