6 Tips To Practice Mindfulness In The Festive Season

mindfulness festive

Thanksgiving, Christmas, parties and holidays… this time of year is all about being with loved ones and (of course) food! So what better time to express thanks for all that sustains and energizes our beings than right now? A nice way to do so is using the art of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a beautiful way to help stay calm and balanced during the silly season. It can help our mealtimes feel peaceful and meaningful, increase our appreciation of food, improve food intelligence and even help with undesirable mealtime behaviours! Let’s have a look at how you can introduce mindfulness into your family’s mealtimes with next to no effort…

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment, using as many senses as possible to focus on the importance and beauty of now. It can help bring back the joy of cooking and eating so it’s no longer seen as a chore, help undo old habits and unravel excuses such as time constraints for poor food choices. Here’s how you can start practicing it with your family right now…

6 Tips To Practice Mindfulness In The Festive Season

1. Focus on the delicious aromas

We eat with our noses too! Sounds weird I know, but it’s true. Our taste is not limited to our mouths, but stems from what we smell. Yes, my kids used to find it most amusing to eat raw onion whilst holding their noses to demonstrate this point to their friends… but I digress! When aiming for mindfulness at your family mealtimes, take time to stop and enjoy the scents in the air. Whilst cooking, serving and eating, there are all sorts of yummy things enticing you to enjoy what you eat on a whole new level. Ever reveled at the smell of onion and garlic frying in a little butter? There are a gazillion aromas in a kitchen –take a few moments to stop and marvel at these glorious scents! Talk about them, drool over them, share your favourites with your family, share them with us in the comments below!

2. Create a work of art on the table and the plate

Moving right along to our next sense… Of course, we also eat with our eyes. Kids are particularly prone to this… Put a toss salad in front of them or a funny face made out of salad ingredients and it’s not hard to guess which they would prefer. So how do we transfer this into mindfulness? Take the time to make a meal look as appealing as it tastes and smells, then guide your family to appreciate this art. The best way to develop this appreciation is to get the kids to help garnish or serve up the meal so it looks a bit special. Rather than slapping things on a plate in a hurry, spend 10 seconds of care as you place the different elements of the meal together. Talk about the awesome array of colour on the plate, what the drizzle of maple syrup looks like as it pours out, how the strawberries add a little zing to the dish. We have so many “that looks too good to eat!” moments in our house! Although it never stops us ☺
And it doesn’t have to stop with the plating up either. Every now and again, as a family, decorate the table with a candle or whip out the nice plates and cutlery (even if there are no guests coming). Add some fresh flowers and suddenly the atmosphere is just that little bit more special. Appealing to the eyes and the tummy!

create work of art

3. How does it feel?

When planning a meal, try to put some thought into the textures you prepare and serve. Include something crunchy, smooth, gooey… Whilst eating, invite discussion about how these textures feel and how they work together. For example, “I love the way this crunches, then melts in your mouth” or “this soup is comforting and warming me up on the inside”. Being mindful involves taking the time to enjoy the feeling you get from a nutritious and delicious meal.

4. Listen with all your being

Mealtimes have always been a social occasion. Celebrations are almost always centred around a table of food. To develop mindfulness at mealtimes, keep the social and emotional connections between your family and food alive and well and as you communicate together, take the time to really listen with all your being. Whether it’s enjoying the sounds of silence as you all slowly enjoy eating each mouthful, laugh at the surprising volume of a crunchy carrot or actively listen as your family shares the events of their day, being mindful of what you hear is a very important ritual worth developing at every mealtime. This means, switch off the tv and all electronics (except maybe a little mood music ☺) and enjoy the good old fashioned concept of a conversation!

5. Take time to enjoy each and every bite

Meals can easily be seen as an ‘inconvenience’ in a busy day, which leads to bad habits forming, such as shoveling in food as fast as we can and overeating. Practicing mindfulness means slowing down! Rest your cutlery back on the plate between each mouthful. Enjoy each and every mouthful. Savour and be thankful for that which energizes you. The gift of being able to chew and swallow food that tastes great and share the meal with the company of loved ones is a pleasure not everybody in the world gets to enjoy. To show you are grateful, give your meals the time they deserve. Make time to eat at a relaxed pace and establish routines for when you eat certain meals (kids especially benefit from this). Model this so your kids learn there is no need to rush and develop good eating habits. Plus, mindful eating at a relaxed pace and at routine times means everybody will also benefit from improved digestion and a greater awareness of when they are no longer hungry.

6. Take time to reflect and be thankful

Mindfulness is all about establishing a greater connection with all – our food, our family and everything in between! A certain level of effort and sacrifice is always involved in a meal – whether it’s the person preparing the meal, the environment being effected by a product’s packing, the farmer growing the produce, the animal sacrificing it’s life or the glorious sun feeding and fueling the plants – there is an element of energy expended in every bit of food that passes our lips, and compassion and thankfulness is therefore a considerate exchange for this energy. And it doesn’t have to be only at Thanksgiving, Christmas or other special occasions that we take time to be grateful. What we put out there is what we will get back, and being mindful of this at any mealtime establishes a level of gratitude and understanding from which everyone can benefit. Not only will a moment of reflection and appreciation develop nice table manners, it will also help your kids improve their food intelligence as they learn what is really involved in creating the meal they end up enjoying.

Mindfulness is a practice that helps create calm in many situations, so whilst this blog looks at how it can help us keep the balance during the upcoming festive season with relation to food, the skills can be practiced outside of mealtimes also. Keep an eye out for future blogs on how mindfulness can help in everyday life.

Have you practiced mindfulness with your family? What are your mealtime methods to keep calm and balanced in the festive season? You can share them by commenting below or on The Food Werewolf Facebook page by clicking here.

Enjoy the moment!

Loren x

For more help with mindfulness, check out the Smiling Mind website – a fantastic free resource spreading the joy and skills of mindfulness and compassionate living.
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