Save the Stuffing for the Turkey, Try Mindful Eating Instead

Thanksgiving TurkeyBy Michelle May, MD

This holiday season, experience maximal pleasure from all the wonderful food and special occasions. By eating mindfully, you’ll eat less and enjoy it more.

The key to mindful eating is to notice the details. Pretend you’re writing an article about your Thanksgiving or other holiday meal for a gourmet magazine. The following tips are from “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle.”

Mindful Eating Is a Great Way to Enjoy Thanksgiving

Focus on the people you’re sharing your meal with. Engage in interesting conversations. Ask questions and really listen to your companions.

Notice how hungry you are. If you aren’t hungry yet, become aware of the reasons you feel like eating anyway. If it’s for social reasons, then be social for a little longer, then eat when you get hungry.


Decide how you want to feel when you’re done eating. Stuffed and miserable? Or comfortable and content? Fill your plate or order accordingly.

Mentally describe the table setting and the ambiance. Notice the aromas, colors, textures and presentation of the meal.

Before eating, take a moment to be truly grateful for your food, where it came from, including all the people who invested their time, effort and talent to get it from the farm to your plate.

Choose food carefully by asking yourself what you want and need. Don’t waste your appetite on cranberry sauce shaped like a can if you don’t love it!

Put one small bite in your mouth. You only have taste buds on your tongue, so the flavors of a large bite of food are lost on your teeth, cheeks and the roof of your mouth.

Notice the texture and flavors of the food on your tongue, then slowly begin to chew. Breathe. Flavors other than salty, sweet, bitter and sour actually come from the aromas.

Set your fork down between bites. If you begin to load your next forkful, your attention will be on the next bite, not the one you are eating now. And if you are focused on the next bite of food instead of the one you are eating, you won’t stop eating until there are no more forkfuls.

Sit for a moment and let the flavors and experience linger before you take the next bite.

Notice as the food gently fills your stomach. Pause for several minutes in the middle of eating to reconnect with your hunger and fullness levels and enjoyment of the meal.

Seasonal food is abundant (actually throughout the year for most of us). Remind yourself that you can eat more later or at another meal, so there’s no need to eat it all now and ruin the experience by being too stuffed.

Michelle May, MD, is the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Program. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle. As a physician, keynote speaker, writer, workshop facilitator, and consultant, Dr. May has shared her powerful and innovative approach with thousands of workshop participants, health care professionals, and organizations across the country. She also trains health care professionals to conduct workshops in clinical, community, and corporate settings. For more information, please visit

The articles written by guest contributors are the sole responsibility of the individual writers in terms of factual accuracy and opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher of this blog.

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