Uh oh. Here comes Thanksgiving, followed closely by you-know-what. Luckily, there’s a lot of information out there about how to manage type 2 diabetes during the holiday season, from planning ahead to making good choices to suggestions for healthier alternatives.
It’s all very helpful indeed. As someone who has more than a few pounds to lose and hopes to avoid the diabetes zone, I’m taking careful note of recommendations from reliable sources. In addition to the tactics, there’s a strategy I’m planning on using. It’s mindfulness.
I’m not a big fan of the word – it seems made up – but the concept is at the bottom of a lot of control issues around eating for me and apparently for a lot of other people. The American Heart Association has an article about it, based on the work of Brian Wansink, Professor of Consumer Behavior at Cornell University and author of the book “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.”
Mindfulness is about being in the present. It’s about noticing what’s around you rather than thinking about the past, in which you may have overeaten and can do nothing about it, or the future, in which you may or may not make it to that exercise class.
Like a lot of powerful concepts, it’s very simple at its core. If you are truly listening to your friend at the party or noticing the lovely colors of the carpet and how they complement the decorations, it may give you the space to wait until the overwhelming desire to head to the buffet passes. That’s the key for me – to focus on the moment, not the mince pie.
Another thing I like about mindfulness is that it doesn’t interfere with my priorities. I want to have a good time. Check. I want to talk to people I like and find interesting. Check. I want to feel like I look my best. But do I really want to pour a lake of gravy over the piece of turkey with the skin on it? Not so much. Do I really need that extra dollop of sweet potatoes on my plate? Maybe not.
For me, limiting or eliminating alcohol is another biggie. I used to think that I couldn’t enjoy myself without it. Perhaps I had a touch of social anxiety. But lo and behold, when I actually got myself to the point of socializing without any wine or a cocktail, an amazing thing happened. I had just as good a time. And it’s a lot easier to be mindful if your mind is not buzzing from holiday cheer.
I know that in the days ahead temptations will be legion. If I can stop for just a few moments, take a few deep breaths and find the present, my more rational self will have a better chance of asserting itself. I can consider what is in my own best interest, rather than allowing an enormous buffet to seduce me with all its manifold calories and sugars. No, this holiday season, my plan is to stop and smell the roses, not the gravy, and to think before I eat.
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