How To Practice Mindful Eating Post Holiday Binge

In this exclusive interview with Lifestyle Asia, two experts share their wisdom on how to recalibrate our mindset towards healthy and mindful eating this 2024.

It’s no surprise we’re still feeling remorse from overindulging during last month’s holiday celebrations and mindful eating seems like a faraway dream. After all, it’s no fun to see our pant sizes going up a notch or two. Now that we are officially back to reality, some expert tips on how to practice mindful eating surely come in handy.

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Lifestyle Asia consulted with licensed nutritionist-dietitian Samantha Morales and plant chef Mae Dolonius, Studio Plantmaed founder & president, who offered some worthwhile suggestions and tips on how to get back on track with our healthy eating goals.

Given the number of parties and get-togethers during last year’s holiday season, how can we begin our mindful eating journey this 2024?

Simply slow down

Samantha shares, “The holiday season may have caused distractions to some (parties, late nights, travel, etc.). Now that it’s over, try to practice mindful eating by simply slowing down to savor every bite of your meal and just being present at the dinner table (avoid scrolling your phone).” She says that these are simple ways to cultivate a healthier relationship with food through mindful eating. After all, food should nourish you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

A Persian-inspired lunch in Samantha's farm called Maria's Table in Alfonso, Cavite
A Persian-inspired lunch in nutritionist-dietitian Samantha Morales’ farm called Maria’s Table in Alfonso, Cavite

Treating food as medicine

According to Mae, “Being vegan for eight years, my holiday is also spent mindfully. As Christmas is traditionally spent with my sisters and our families, each prepare Filipino traditional Noche Buena and over the years I contribute salad, a potato dish, pasta in garlic and pechay or sometimes sitaw, and my traditional paella is turned into Mediterranean bulgur or tomato base couscous.  My palette has changed over the years as well as interest on food choices.” Mae shares that since she treats food as medicine, not even holidays could make her cheat! She adds, “But if I may suggest to people on resetting after the holidays? Start with taking a lot of liquid food like water, fresh juice, and veggie smoothies. And take probiotic shots.”

A selection of vegan bites by plant chef Mae Dolonius
A selection of vegan bites by plant chef Mae Dolonius: raw vegan canapés with sunflower bread in scramble eggless, tostadas in dragon fruit , onion bread in mango slices, cucumber in mock tuna, Italian chia crisp in radish ranch and capers

Can you share tips for mindful eating now that we want to reset?

Samantha offers five specific tips to answer this question: chew your food properly, hydration is key, include prebiotics and probiotics to your daily routine, get good quality sleep, and eat more antioxidant-rich foods. Simply put, she says, “Eat a rainbow!”

A vibrant fresh salad of mangoes, coriander, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and cucumbers, all from Maria's Table
A vibrant fresh salad of mangoes, coriander, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and cucumbers, all from Maria’s Table

What is the best way to lose weight after the holiday binge?

Mae suggests intermittent fasting, “but have a proper meal during breaks as well and of course, movement.”

Thai green curry with keiffer jicama rice from Studio Plantmaed

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How do you motivate yourself to fulfill your 2024 mindful eating resolution?

Mae elaborates, “Health has been the reason why I got into this journey. And health is still my motivation. At 53, where most of my friends are dealing with menopause, pre and post, I am so happy that I don’t experience any of their stories of struggle so far. And I know that what I eat helped me a lot!”

More plant-based goodness from Studio Plantmaed
Pumpkin almond cream gazpacho from Studio Plantmaed

She adds, “At this age, meeting friends in holiday parties you can’t avoid but talk about maintenance medication, health challenges, and signs of aging.  And my contribution to the conversation has always been how I feel a lot younger than my chronological age. If there is a resolution every year I could think of, it is incorporating more exercise.”

Camote pizza by plant chef Mae Dolonius

Some of us are consciously incorporating movement practices into our schedules this post-holiday season as a way to lose all the holiday pounds we gained amid the temptations of indulgent eating at parties. What mindful eating tips can you offer to those who are practicing active workouts like  yoga, pilates, running, gym, HIIT, among others? 

Samantha shares three suggestions:

Choose your carbs wisely. Aside from whole grains, vegetables contain carbohydrates. You can add them to smoothies as a pre workout snack. 

Thai quinoa salad with spicy nut dressing by Samantha Morales

Add MCT oil to your daily routine. Studies have shown that taking MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oil before workout can help enhance performance. Take a spoon as is or mix with coffee or shake. 

Plan your meals ahead of time especially when you have a busy schedule. This way, you get to consume fresh whole foods as much as possible.

Gluten-free pancakes with almond and coconut flour with chocolate tahini sauce by Samantha Morales
Gluten-free pancakes with almond and coconut flour with chocolate tahini sauce by Samantha Morales

Can you share a little something about yourself and your practice?

Samantha shares, “I’m a licensed nutritionist dietitian. I took up BS Nutrition from the University of the Philippines. Back in 2018, I studied raw vegan desserts culinary in New York City. I started my career in Clinical Nutrition and Weight Management in Asian Hospital and Medical Center. Currently, I have my own nutrition consultancy specializing in weight & lifestyle management, hormone health, nutrition & culinary education, and product development. I also have a bed & breakfast and farm to table experience called Maria’s Table in Alfonso, Cavite.”

Mae elaborates, “Although my original profession for the last 20 years before I became a vegan chef was in the entertainment industry as a producer (since I was a graduate of Mass Communications in San Sebastián College and undergraduate of Films in the University of the Philippines), I took my vegan culinary courses in Thailand from the Plantbased Guru Matthew Kenney Academy and Japanese expert of vegan healing culinary in Bali, Sayuri Tanaka.”

In addition, I continue to educate myself as Plantbased Nutrition in Fortbragg, California through the Living Light Academy under Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, who has written more than 25 books about Vegan Nutrition & Recipes.

I found my passion in plantbased culinary, spreading the good news of healthy living through talks and workshops while training nurses, nutritionists, health workers, and doctors. I created the 100 days program, a transition to healthier living while promoting nutritional plantbased living to BPO companies. Furthermore, I created a healthy happy pantry for the stressful corporate world.”

Got questions? Interested in a one-on-one consultation?

To learn more about mindful eating, reach out to Samantha Morales on Instagram @dietitiansamantha and as well as Mae Dolonius via Instagram @studioplantamaedph.

Banner photo courtesy of Mae Dolonius.

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