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During the holidays, we’ll be gathering with our loved ones over heaps of food. While the temptation to indulge in unsustainable ways is real, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Anna Rios shares 5 ways to take a step back and make more mindful health choices this upcoming holiday season.
Las fiestas are a time to celebrate with family and food. Es la temporada de tamales, champurrado, pozole, pernil, and so much more. Food is nourishment for our bodies, but it’s also an integral part of our culture, family traditions, and core memories. It’s expected to indulge a little during the holiday season, but it doesn’t mean we can’t do it mindfully.
Mindful eating is being fully present and having a closer connection with food, how it makes you feel, and how it can affect your health. Eating mindfully means listening to your hunger and fullness cues, as well as eating slower and savoring each bite. As a Latina dietitian who focuses on mindful eating, I’m sharing a guide with 5 easy tips to help you find balance during las fiestas this year:
1. Avoid the “Scarcity Mindset”
The Scarcity Mindset is when you believe that certain foods are limited, which leads to binging or overeating. During the holidays, it is easy to tell ourselves “aprovecha ahora que hay” because some foods are typically only made during this time of year. However, it’s important to remind yourself that these foods can be eaten year-round if we choose to make them. This will help reduce the temptation to overeat these foods. Switching over to an abundance mindset — normalizing those foods — can eventually get you to a place where those foods don’t tempt you as much and will be able to eat them in moderation.
2. Use Your 5 Senses
Mindful eating means being present without distractions while enjoying a meal. Tasting, touching, smelling, seeing, and even listening to your food is an important part of the eating experience. It allows you to enjoy your food on a deeper level so that you end up feeling more satisfied with overall smaller portions. Eating mindfully will also help you eat slower to avoid overeating and feeling uncomfortable. This holiday season, apaga la televisión, eat at the dinner table and become fully present with your food.
3. Add Color to Your Plate
Fruits and vegetables are incredibly nutritious and leave us feeling good. Remember to add colorful fruits and vegetables to your plate to help you find that balance. If you know that your family doesn’t cook vegetables, make some yourself. Lots of holiday gatherings are potluck-style, so feel free to make a yummy dish that everyone will love! Some great options are ensalada de nopales, roasted calabacitas, or some veggie-loaded guacamole. Avocados are considered a fruit with good fats and fiber making guacamole a perfect way to balance a holiday meal! The fiber they contain also helps slow down food digestion, which prevents rapid rises in blood glucose following a meal. And there is a growing body of evidence to back this up! An analysis of 14,000 individuals found that consuming avocados improved insulin responses in those with normal blood sugar. In people with type 2 diabetes, avocado consumption was linked to lower average blood sugar and better insulin-related measures (Wood, 2023). The Avocado Nutrition Center funded the research, contributing to mounting evidence supporting avocados’ potential benefits for blood sugar and insulin control. Diabetes is a prominent chronic illness in the Latine community, so having healthy dishes available like guacamole or avocados on the side at family gatherings is a great option.
4. Incorporate Movement
Mindfulness is also being aware of how our body will feel before and after eating. On the days you know you’ll be attending a fiesta, try to get a nice walk in or make time for your favorite exercise. If you don’t have time to incorporate movement before the gathering, invite your tías or primas on a walk after dinner. Movement will help keep your body feeling good and your blood sugar stable.
5. Avoid Skipping Meals
Skipping meals can result in extreme hunger levels that can lead to overeating. We can sometimes be tempted to skip breakfast or eat nothing but salads on days like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but make sure you eat balanced meals instead. Having protein, carbohydrates, good fats, and vegetables at each meal is important to keep your blood glucose stable throughout the day and avoid overeating. If you don’t have time, a simple taco or sandwich will do. I recommend making a quick taco con frijoles, queso y aguacate or adding avocado slices to a sandwich for an easy but balanced snack/meal. Avocados contains zero grams of naturally occurring sugar per serving and does not affect the glycemic response. The beans will provide the protein, tortillas provide the carbohydrates, and avocados contribute 6 grams of unsaturated (good) fat per serving!
Or, you can even try Plant-Powered Avo-Taco Boats, which can be easily meal-prepped for those busy days. Deliciously packed with cauliflower florets, walnuts, sazón, salsa, and of course, avocados. Fiber-containing foods like avocados, help provide a feeling of fullness and keep you energized!
This holiday season, remember to listen to your body and honor your hunger and your fullness. Reject the expectation of having to clean your plate to show respect to your tías. Remember that your body also needs respect. Allow yourself to enjoy your favorite holiday foods while eating mindfully and rejecting the scarcity mindset. Food can be many things at once; nutrients, salud, cultura, good times, and core memories. Remember that the key is #balance. Felices fiestas, amigas!
Click here for a free PDF download from Aguacates – Love One Today® with a few helpful resources including helpful ways to spot the difference between natural sugars and added sugars which can help you make more mindful health choices.
About the Author
Anna is a registered dietitian nutritionist and food blogger. She works with the underserved Latine community in northern California, while also creating nourishing plant-based Mexican recipes. Her goal is to show her community that it is possible to eat a healthy diet while still honoring our culture and enjoying our food. She focuses on intuitive and mindful eating as well as a healthy relationship with food because mental health and nutrition are connected