By Lee-Ann Wantanabe, Wellness Educator
From Halloween to the New Year, most events are heavily centered around food. And despite the notion to be merry, stress, obligation and hectic schedules soon create a perfect storm so to speak; one where wellness gets pushed off the bottom of our to-do list.
Did you know that for Thanksgiving alone, the average American will consume a hefty 3,000 calories — just for dinner? Include drinks, dessert and appetizers and that can bring the total calorie count to 4,500 (according to the Calorie Control Council, an industry group).
Time and time again, I am always asked, “But, how can I pass up all of the holiday goodies; the treats, desserts, casseroles and appetizers?” 
 
The truth is, that if you can use the theory of mindful eating during the holidays, you can prevent weight gain during this busy time of year. And no, mindful eating does not equal restriction or deprivation. Mindful eating by using The Take Three Method will help you navigate through the pitfalls of mindless eating. And the beauty of this method? You can use it any time and anywhere (not only for the holidays).

The Take Three Method

The Take 3 Method for healthy eating is based on research and time efficient small steps that fit into your lifestyle. And the very the best part? It only takes THREE SECONDS! Yes, that’s right… three seconds! And in these 3 seconds, you’re going to ask yourself the three fundamental questions which will change the way you eat and think about food from this point forward.

QUESTION #1: AM I HUNGRY?

Ask yourself this question and focus on listening to your physical body and separating out emotional decisions (i.e. cravings versus real hunger). Our bodies were designed to tell us when we need food. We should eat when we are hungry. Waiting too long to the point that our stomachs are growling puts us into a position of over-eating at the next opportunity of food. But conversely, eating when we are not hungry, such as when someone brings in treats to the office, or the dessert tray comes around in the restaurant are times that it’s critical we listen to our bodies. In other words, ask yourself “am I really hungry?”, or do I just want this because of the situation.

QUESTION #2: IS IT SMART?

This question is focused on helping us to make better food choices. Of course we know the difference between choosing a brownie or a bowl of steamed broccoli. But, the real power of this question is how to deal with the situation when you know the food is not smart, and being able to then ask the question “can I make it smart?”

QUESTION #3: HOW MUCH DO I NEED?

Asking how much you need puts this particular meal or food into context of your eating needs for the entire day. When you begin to think of fueling your body for the entire day, then it begins to take less pressure and guilt off of each individual meal decision. Instead of saying I can’t have this because it’s not a smart food, you will instead begin to give yourself permission to have some of those “not so smart” foods in balance with how it fits into the big picture.
The Take Three Method is not about depriving you of the foods you love. When you follow the Take Three Method, you will learn how to enjoy foods and eat mindfully to achieve your health and wellness goals. As we approach our holiday season, be mindful of the most important thing by taking a moment to reflect on all the wonderful gifts you’ve received all year long and the things in your life that you are appreciative of.
We leave you with a great recipe from the American Heart Association for a mindful chili choice. Cheers!

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