Nutrition Matters – December 2019

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The holiday season is quickly approaching! Gatherings with family and friends are often filled with laughter, games, happy memories …. and casseroles and desserts served with a side of guilt. We all overeat from time to time, and during the holidays it can feel more difficult to break the habit. Another piece of Aunt Betty’s coconut cake or that third helping of Grandma’s turkey can be hard to resist. We tend to eat more than we need for many reasons, sometimes because of not wanting to waste, getting our money’s worth, feeling bored, happy, sad, or just eating out of habit.

Did you know that people who usually overeat are more likely to be overweight? The cycle of overeating and weight gain can increase the risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, trouble sleeping, difficulty breathing, and heart disease. This holiday season, it’s time to take control of this bad habit. You can have your cake (and eat it too!) by paying attention to portion sizes. Mindfully savoring your food can be a great tool for portion control. Follow the tips below to begin your mindful eating practice along with portion control.

  1. Start with small portions: Choose smaller bowls and plates.
  2. Use all your senses: When you’re cooking, serving, and eating your food, pay attention to color, texture, smell and even the sounds different foods make as your prepare them. As you chew your food, try to taste all of the ingredients.
  3. Take small bites: It’s easier to taste food completely when your mouth isn’t full.
  4. Put your fork down between bites: The act of setting your fork down forces you to focus on chewing your food rather than letting yourself mindlessly pick at your plate for your next bite.
  5. Eat in silence: Minimize distractions and make sure you’re eating in a calm environment. Close your eyes if you find your thoughts racing to other things.
  6. Focus on finding the sweet spot between hungry and full: Pay attention to how you feel during the meal and how long you stay satisfied after eating. Eventually, you will get more comfortable understanding your body’s cues for hunger and fullness.

For additional foods, health and nutrition information contact Shelina Bonner, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Greene County Center at (252) 747-5831.