By Michael Krueger, NSCA-CPT
With the holiday season quickly bearing down on us and our waistline, I thought it would be a good idea to dedicate a column to my thoughts on food and eating. As a culture, we have decided to refer to this basic need and activity as diet and nutrition. Whatever you call it, we have issues with it.
So, what is a health-conscious person to do? The short answer is “eat the cookie.” Just don’t eat all of them. That is the secret, if you want to call it that: portion control. The second cookie won’t taste as good as the first one did, and the third or fourth you won’t even remember eating. Eating without thought is the biggest issue that presents itself at holiday parties. You are talking, laughing, and drinking, all while you are eating. You are doing what is known as “distracted eating.”
Mindful consumption of food will solve most of the problems you will encounter during the holiday season as well as the rest of the year. Eating while reading, working, or watching television falls under the same general heading. Distracted eating is not particularly satisfying because you aren’t paying attention to what you are putting in your mouth. You don’t notice the flavor, the texture, how much you’ve eaten, or the subtle interactions between the flavors of the various components of the meal. A good wine or beer is wasted on a distracted eater.
This isn’t to say that you can’t eat and have a conversation at the same time. We are very social creatures, and sharing food is a big part of our culture. But, and it is a big but, eating little barbecue weenies, pieces of cheese, and sausage along with some Buffalo wings at a cocktail party is not the same as sharing a meal with someone. Balancing a paper plate on your knee while stuffing nasty snack foods in your mouth and washing them down with alcohol is not the equivalent of mindful eating.
Relax and enjoy yourself
This is the time of year for friends and family to get together to enjoy the season. Don’t deprive yourself of this experience; just continue to be mindful while you do it, and you will emerge into the New Year without a single extra pound to show for an entire season of celebration.
Michael Krueger is an NSCA-certified personal trainer. He got his start in fitness training while serving in the United States Coast Guard. He works with firefighters and others in and around Madison, Wisconsin. He is available to fire departments, civic organizations, and athletic teams for training, consulting, and speaking engagements. He has published numerous articles on fitness, health, and the mind-body connection and was a featured speaker at the IAFC’s FRI 2009 Health Day in Dallas, Texas. E-mail him at MKPTLLC@gmail.com.