Mindful Eating During the Holidays – Yes, it Can Be Done!

By WW Health Solutions

*Editor's Note: At Welltok, we’ve curated a stellar ecosystem of Connect Partners that cover the full spectrum of health and wellbeing, from condition management to mental health to fertility benefits. One of our partners, WW, is a wellness company powered by the world’s leading sustainable weight loss program. WW Health Solutions partners with employers to propel happier, healthier, more engaged workplaces and communities. In this WW guest blog post, you’ll see a glimpse of how they are helping individuals think outside the box and incorporate healthier meals into holiday gatherings.

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One of the things we hear most often during the holidays is “it’s impossible to eat healthy with all this food around!” Even if we hit the holiday season with good intentions, even the best laid plans can still be thrown off track by unexpected events… or that gorgeous dessert tray.

Common weight management strategies often include recommendations to control amounts of salt, sugar and fat added to meals by cooking from scratch. But scratch cooking or building meals at home may not be a realistic or desired strategy for everyone. In 2019, it was estimated that 50% of the food Americans eat was purchased outside of the home.¹ On average, Americans eat out at least 4 times per week.¹ And this increases during the holiday season.

Although we can't always dictate what’s on the menu, planning ahead – based on weight and wellness goals and what we enjoy – can help us stay on track.

  • Our environment can play a large role in what we do. Studies have found that simply seeing and smelling a food can increase how much we crave it – and how much we end up eating.² Studies also show that when we’re around others, we tend to eat whatever they’re eating – and to have more of it than we would if we were alone. Having a plan ahead of time helps us make conscious choices based on what we actually want before we are influenced by our environment.
  • Making decisions ahead of time also reduces our need to rely on willpower (the conscious effort it takes to do something different than what we’d prefer to do), which is unreliable and takes a lot of energy.

That being said, when planning ahead, we can’t predict everything. Even the most detailed plans can be thrown off track.

  • By thinking ahead for an event and anticipating challenges that might arise, we can decide ahead of time how we want to respond.
  • One way we can plan ahead is by creating a guideline for ourselves about what we’ll do in specific situations. This way, we’ve made a decision ahead of time and don’t’ need to spend energy considering an alternative. For example, one guideline might be “If the breadbasket comes my way, then I will grab one slice and send it to the other side of the table.”

With WW, all foods are “in” and all styles of eating (in or out) can be part of a healthy pattern of eating, even during challenging times like the holiday season. Want to learn more about Welltok’s partnership with WW and how you can offer this solution to your people? Let’s talk!

More resources:

References:

1. Saksena MJ, Okrent AM, Anekwe TD, Cho C, Dicken C, Effland A, Elitzak H, Guthrie J, Hamrick KS, Hyman J, Jo Y, Lin BH, Mancino L, McLaughlin PW, Rahkovsky I, Ralston K, Smith TA, Stewart H, Todd J, Tuttle C. America’s eating habits: food away from home. US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. 2018.
2. Herman, C. The social facilitation of eating. A review. Appetite. 2015; 86:61-73.