On Halloween, I had my good friend Amber over. We got chips and salsa, bought some candy, I bought myself a donut, and she made a delicious pumpkin coffee cake while I made avocado enchiladas (one of my favorite recipes!)
Our plan for the day was to make some food, watch scary movies, and take my boyfriend's son out for some trick-or-treating.
I was super stoked about our plans, and I looked forward to them for about 3 weeks. We ended up spending most of the time in the kitchen, and I spent most of it mindlessly eating.
By the end of the night, we came back from trick-or-treating to finally have a piece of that pumpkin cake that was calling my name all day. The only problem was that I was stuffed by that point. But guess what? I decided to eat the cake anyway. And that's totally okay. But I did feel sick afterward.
She left, and I started to wonder why I ate so much in the first place. And why I chose to do it so mindlessly. Now, I didn't beat myself up in any way, because I don't believe that is helpful or necessary. But I was genuinely curious...why did I do that?
After some reflection, I realized that I was mindlessly eating because the food was just there. I was just shoving it in my mouth as I was walking around the kitchen and cooking. By the time the enchiladas were ready, I wasn't even hungry. But I ate them anyway. And that led me to eat the cake when I wasn't hungry either.
It's not the amount that I ate that bothers me, it's the fact that I was uncomfortably full and endured heartburn for the rest of the night and the next morning. My blood sugar was also so unstable the next morning that I was hungry every 30 minutes to an hour.
Most of the time, I make a strong effort to listen to my body. My main goal is to feel as good as I can so I can show up in life as my "best self" as often as possible. We all love feeling good, right? Along with that, I really want to make an effort to be as present as possible when spending time with friends and family. If I'm scarfing down food, then I'm not fully present to my friend or the food.
With Thanksgiving coming up soon...I asked myself "how can I make sure I'm enjoying the food and the company as fully as possible?" and I came up with a few answers....
1) Stay present
It's really easy to go into "autopilot" mode. We may choose to be on our phones, zone out, or eat to distract ourselves from what's going on in the room. Then when your company leaves you wonder "how did everything go by so fast?"
Action item: Every once in a while, take three deep, full breaths to bring yourself back into the present. Put away distractions whenever possible, especially when eating.
Bonus tip: Excuse yourself as needed to complete a 1-2 minute meditation or round of breathing in the bathroom or in a private bedroom
2) Check in with yourself
We often forget to make choices based on how our bodies are feeling. We're full, yet we keep eating. We feel drunk, yet we keep drinking. Checking in with yourself allows you to make decisions about food, alcohol and anything else based on how you're currently feeling, and taking into account how you want to feel.
Action item: Every hour or so, take a moment to pause and check in with yourself. Ask yourself "how am I feeling in this moment? Is there anything I need? More water, more food, less food, a hug, a good conversation?" Treat yourself the same way that you would treat a beloved houseguest that you wanted to make as comfortable as possible.
3) Don't put the event or gathering on a pedestal
If we know we have an event or party coming up, we tend to starve ourselves before hand. We want to have "enough room to eat". But when this happens, we often get to the party so hungry that we scarf down food without paying attention, and often end up overeating and feeling uncomfortable afterward.
Action tip: Don't enter with the vacation mentality of "I have to eat all I can while I'm here, because this is a special occasion and I won't get this chance again for a while". If you aren't restricting in your every day life, then you won't feel the need to eat everything in site at a party or on vacation. Treat it like any other day. Eat when you're hungry, and eat what sounds appealing...no matter what that may be. Enjoy the experience, and be as mindful as possible so you won't be hunting for more food after being full because you weren't present for your eating experiences.
Above all...just remember that these aren't new "food rules" to follow, and whether or not you follow these guidelines does not make you "good" or "bad". These are simply guidelines to help you stay in the moment, enjoy social gatherings as much as possible, and leave feeling light and vibrant rather than heavy and worn down.
Now it's your turn! Create 1 guideline that will help you savor and enjoy any social gathering or event as much as possible. Share it in the comments below!