While the holiday season has many wonderful aspects to enjoy, holiday foods typically stand out as a highlight. Delicious holiday meals are an important part of bringing families and friends together, and often connect to our traditions, memories, and cultural roots.
But the holiday food environment can feel daunting during pregnancy, as you might feel like there isn’t room in your prenatal diet for your usual favourites. Since these foods can be so central to our experiences, I encourage you to still enjoy them using mindful eating practices to help ensure you’re getting a balance of nutrients and feeling your best.
What is “mindful eating”?
Mindful eating is all about eating with intention—including trying to tune into your body’s appetite cues to guide your meal and snack choices and be more aware of your senses in order to fully enjoy your food. At holiday meals, when there are a lot of delicious options, mindful eating can allow you to eat what you want to without necessarily reaching that “stuffed” feeling. Here are some mindful eating tips so you can navigate holiday meals during your pregnancy:
1. Eat smaller, more frequent meals and snacks throughout the day—even leading up to a holiday meal
For a lot of people, it’s tempting to cut back on food throughout the day leading up to a holiday meal so you feel you have the appetite to really enjoy it. However, when you feel TOO hungry, it’s a big challenge to listen to your satiety cues and stop eating when you feel satisfied. But by eating throughout the day, it will help you tune into your satiety cues. You especially want to make sure to eat regularly during pregnancy to support a steady supply of nutrients and energy for your baby.
2. Include a variety of foods on your plate (including protein, whole grains, and vegetables)
Although you might not always have a say over what foods are served at your holiday meals, try to include various foods when you have the choice. Balancing some protein, whole grains, and vegetables on your plate will help give your body a range of nutrients to support your prenatal health.
3. Eat slowly and try tuning into your appetite
Eating slowly and mindfully can help to make you more aware of your appetite. When you eat slowly and with intention, it’s easier to notice when you feel satisfied. At that time, it’s a good idea to remind yourself that your body has had enough to eat and you can always enjoy more of the taste as leftovers later on. As a bonus, when you eat slowly, you tend to enjoy your food more!
4. Enjoy holiday foods in moderation to help avoid triggering pregnancy symptoms
Remember that no foods are “bad” foods, and you can enjoy all of your holiday favourites in moderation. Simply try not to have too much of anything since certain foods, or large portions, may trigger pregnancy symptoms such as heartburn or nausea. Make sure to savour the tastes of all the delicious foods and drinks you enjoy! And for those we recommend to avoid in pregnancy, such as cocktails, remember that you can make appropriate modifications (like mocktails) and still enjoy the taste.