Mindful Eating Programs and Training

Mindful Eating Programs and Training

Eating Mindfully on Thanksgiving

Michelle May


This holiday season, experience optimal pleasure by truly appreciating the wonderful occasion and delicious foods. By eating mindfully on Thanksgiving, you’ll enjoy this special holiday meal even more.

Here are some tips for eating mindfully on Thanksgiving—and year-round! (From the Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat book series.)

Mindful eating on Thanksgiving

Begin with thanks-giving

Thanksgiving-when-preparing-foodSince focusing on gratitude is the purpose of this holiday, weave thanks giving into every aspect of the day, from food prep, to guests, to enjoying your meal.

  • Lovingly preparing food is about as mindful as it gets.
  • Try this Gratitude Meditation to help you feel more centered and truly thankful about where your food came from, including all the people who invested their time, effort, and talent to get it from farm to plate.

It’s not about the food

The frenzy of preparing this traditional meal can cause us to lose the forest for the trees. Focus your attention to really connect with the people you’re sharing your meal with.

  • Engage in interesting conversations.
  • Ask questions and really listen to your companions.
  • What are they most grateful for this year?

Remember, it’s just turkey! It’s family and friends that make it special.

Notice the details

One key to mindful eating is to notice the details. One way to do that is to pretend you’re writing an article about your Thanksgiving or other holiday meal for a gourmet magazine.

  • Mentally describe the table setting and the ambiance.
  • Notice the aromas, colors, textures, and presentation of the meal.
  • As you’re eating, what flavors are your experiencing? Can you identify the ingredients?

Connect with your physical sensations

Periodically tune inward to connect with your physical sensations.

  • Notice how hungry you are.
  • If you aren’t hungry yet, become aware of the reasons you feel like eating anyway. If it’s for social reasons, then be social for awhile longer, then eat when you get hungry.
  • Set your intention: Decide how you want to feel when you’re done eating. Stuffed and miserable? Or comfortable and content? Fill your plate accordingly.
  • Choose food carefully by asking yourself what you love. Don’t waste your appetite on cranberry sauce shaped like a can if you don’t love it!

Eat mindfully

When it’s finally time to eat, tune your attention to savoring your meal. By eating mindfully, you’ll enjoy Thanksgiving even more!

  • Select the bite you are most excited about and start there. (Don’t save the best until last; you’ll be too full to fully enjoy it!)
  • Smell your food! Other than the tastes salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami (savory), most of the flavors of food come from the aromas.
  • Put one small bite in your mouth. You only have taste buds on your tongue, so the flavors of a large bite of food are lost on your teeth, cheeks, and the roof of your mouth.
  • Notice the texture and flavors of the food.
  • Slowly begin to chew and notice how that changes the flavors.
  • Set your fork down between bites. If you begin to load your next forkful while you are chewing, where will your attention be? On the next bite, not the one you are eating now. And if you are focused on the next bite of food instead of the one you’re eating, you won’t stop eating until there are no more forkfuls left to load!
  • Sit for a moment and let the flavors and experience linger before you take the next bite. (In wine tasting, we call this “the finish.”)

Eat to feel good

Food is abundantEating the right amount of food is not about being good; it’s about feeling good.

  • Notice as the food gently fills your stomach.
  • Pause for several minutes in the middle of eating to reconnect with your hunger and fullness levels and enjoyment of the meal.
  • Remember, food is abundant this time of year (actually all year for many of us). Remind yourself that you can eat more later or at another meal, so there’s no need to eat it all now and ruin the experience by feeling too stuffed.
  • Remember, you CAN eat turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing any day of the year!

Mindful eating is a great way to enjoy Thanksgiving and the rest of your meals more. You’ll be thankful that you did!

If you enjoyed this article, here are three more articles about eating mindfully on Thanksgiving:

Food Gratitude Meditation

Not Another “How to Trim 300 Calories from Your Thanksgiving Dinner” Article

What to do when you eat too much

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3 thoughts on “Eating Mindfully on Thanksgiving”

  1. Thanks for reminding us to savor every aspect of this holiday. It’s not really just about the food! This type of mindfulness will lead to an attitude of gratitude that extends far beyond the food on our plates.

  2. Lynn Maynes Ph.D.

    I love the stuffing – and I savor every bite that I eat. I rarely eat something I don’t love. Please let me skip those yams!

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