The holiday season is here, and regardless of whether and how you celebrate, the hype and expectations can add stress to our lives. Our minds can fill up with worries about many things, such as how to respond to the question “how was your holiday?” when we return to work. We can hook into comparisons, ‘was my holiday as exciting, as happy, as meaningful, as other peoples’ holidays?” How many parties were you invited to, was your dinner good enough, did you have a special someone to share it with? Were your gifts good enough? And then it comes to an end, all the hype, the socializing, the dinners –we can be left feeling a bit down, disappointed, or lonely.

If emotional eating has been an ongoing struggle, this may be an especially tempting and challenging time of year.

My suggestion to “taste the holidays” is meant both literally and metaphorically. If you tend to overeat, practicing mindfulness when you are around food is often helpful, and may be more so now.

Doing a brief ‘check in” with yourself is a great holiday practice. Starting with what’s inside your skin and then moving to what’s outside, the world of your 5 senses. To start, gently shift your focus and notice what your mind is telling you, and what feelings and sensations are showing up in your body. Are you actually feeling sensations of hunger? If you are, eat, and eat mindfully. Notice the food you are eating, how it smells, how it tastes, and savor the moment. Or, are you noticing fullness, in which case, let’s wonder what the urge to eat is about. Are your thoughts consumed (pun intended) by stress and anxiety that are driving an urge to eat?

Then, shift your focus to the world of what you can see, hear, taste, smell and feel. What’s going on in your world at this very moment in time? Is there something stressful going on, and can you deal with it in ways that don’t involve eating as a solution, especially if you aren’t hungry? Are you feeling lonely, if so, what can you do to reach out and connect? Are you with friends or peers and can you just be in that moment?

Tasting the holidays also means savoring the moment you are in. Whether you’ve gone on a vacation or you are here in the GTA with the snow. Can you make a choice to be present with what’s right here, right now? Without judgment, without comparing to others, without getting lost in what your mind tells you, can you make a choice to really experience the moment, to taste the holidays?