Long summer evenings, BBQ’s, weddings, holidays and travel abroad – the summer brings plenty of wonderful socialising opportunities and with it plenty of delicious food and drink.
It’s all too easy to forget your health wellness goals and indulge – we’ve all been there! But it doesn’t have to be this way. By practicing mindful eating and drinking, you can enjoy all the benefits of social gatherings and stay in control of your healthy choices.
In this blog post, I am going to take you through the art of making healthier decisions when eating out, and guide you toward achieving a harmonious balance between socialising and wellness.
The Essence of Mindful Eating and Drinking:
First, we need to understand the concept of mindfulness. I am sure you have heard of this. It’s a form of meditation – being fully present in the moment and bringing awareness to our thoughts, actions and, in this case, the food and alcohol choices we are making. By practicing mindfulness, you can transform your dining experiences.
Mindful eating involves paying closer attention to your food choices and how what we consume makes us feel. It also helps us learn to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger. The abundance of food means we tend to eat whether or not we are hungry, and often ignore our body’s cues.
Set Your Intentions: Preparing for Social Gatherings:
Preparation is everything! Rather than turn up and go with the flow, check menus in advance so you know what to expect. You could have a light snack before you head out, that way you won’t be starving, will eat less and be able to make healthier choices.
Listen to Your Body: Tune into Hunger and Fullness:
Practice tuning in to your body’s cues for hunger and fullness. By noticing your eating habits, why you’re eating and when, and noticing when you are hungry and full, you will make healthier choices that align with your body’s needs. Notice how certain foods make you feel – it might be worth keeping a food diary to help with this.
Make Mindful Choices: Navigating the Menu:
It’s possible to choose healthier options from the menu without sacrificing enjoyment. Go for whole foods, lean meats and fish or seafood and vegetables, or salads. Keep away from empty carbs such as breadbaskets. These will fill you up quickly, but you will be hungry again soon after! It’s ok to indulge a little – choose a starter and main or a main and desert rather than all three.
Portion Awareness: Finding Balance in Serving Sizes:
Understand portion control and techniques for recognizing when you’ve had enough.
It’s good practice to ask yourself ‘am I hungry?’ when reaching for food. Develop strategies like using smaller plates or sharing dishes. Many of us have been taught to eat everything on the plate – whilst this comes from a good place, it also teaches us to ignore the signs we are full. Tune into your body and know when you have had enough.
Engage Fully: Balancing Conversations and Consumption:
Eating in company is enjoyable and a bonding experience – humans have eaten communally since the beginning of time. When we share food and engage in conversation, it naturally slows down our eating pace. This helps with our digestion and adds to eating mindfully and enjoyably.
Mindful Cheers: Navigating Alcohol Choices:
Bringing mindfulness to alcohol consumption is so important. We have all started a night out with ‘I am only going to have one’ and that quickly adds to two and then we lose control. There is nothing wrong with having a few drinks. It’s important, though, to understand your relationship with alcohol. Know your limits and when to stop – especially if there is a free bar! It’s all too easy to forget how much we have drunk.
Set intentions on your limit, not to mix your drinks, and choose lower calorie options like vodka with sparkling water and lemon.
If servers are topping up drinks, say no and only get one when your glass is empty – that way you will know how much you are drinking!
Stay hydrated and by alternating alcoholic beverages with a glass of water for a healthy balance.
With mindful eating and drinking, you can revel in the joys of socializing while honouring your health goals. These tips are your guide to achieving a balance that ensures you enjoy every bite, sip, and conversation without feeling guilty. Embrace the art of mindfulness, and watch as you savour the true essence of social interactions while staying aligned with your well-being aspirations. Remember, it’s all about finding the balance where you can cherish the moments and your health simultaneously.
If you would like some guidance and support to achieve your health goals, lets talk. I work with women in their 40s and beyond to improve their health, wellness and vitality.