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Spain’s sobremesa during the holidays and beyond

By Michelle May, M.D.

It happens every year… I’m shocked that the holidays are already here and a little grumpy about the extra demands that I’ll need to squeeze into the margins of an already full life. And then, every year, I am suddenly “in the spirit” and enjoying “a few of my favorite things” (see!).

WitAm-I-Hungry-farm-to-table-dinnerh our “kids” now 21 and 25, we have been able to scale back the extras to only the essentials–and for me, those revolve around connecting with our family and friends. I recently wrote an article about a beautiful word used in Spain, sobremesa, that translates to “over the table” and refers to the time after a meal when people linger to enjoy one another’s company. This perfectly describes what I love most about the holidays (and why I detest all of the “how to prevent holiday weight gain” articles bombarding and distracting us from enjoying our food mindfully and fearlessly).

Amid the busyness, the chaos, and the commercialism, people make the time to attend or even host a party or a gathering. Once the food is served, it’s finally time to focus on the point of it all: being together. We might be with family members that we talk to regularly but don’t often really listen to. We might be with friends who are as busy as we are, so even when we see them, we sometimes forget to really see them. Or, we might be with people we’ve just met, yet who stimulate new thought and laughter. This time spent over the table is the most precious time we have during the holidays.

But in Spain, la sobremesa is a daily occurrence, not an annual event. And I love that! My intention during this lovely holiday season and beyond, is to be more mindful about one of the most important ways we nourish ourselves: through the relationships we nurture over the table.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories about connecting over your holiday meals! (I took this picture at a wonderful farm-to-table event that my husband and I attended this fall. These events are held all over by Outstanding In the Field.)


About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

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