The difference between "dieting" and "mindful" eating is about 5 pounds

MARION COUNTY, Fla., (WCJB) -- The holiday season will soon be in full swing, and so are those holiday parties with lots of food. They might crash your diet, but today we'll learn why it's okay to have a few cookies for a special occasion.

The Florida Department of Health in mMarion County taught an eating mindfulness class, and TV20's Olana Osborn explains the difference between dieting and eating mindfully, and how you can avoid gaining a few extra pounds this winter.

When you think about eating on your lunch break, does it sound a little like this?

“Most the time we are in a hurry, we are trying to get it done, I’m eating lunch I’m answering phone calls,” said Cece Bellot, a senior supervisor for the school health department.

Distracted eating can be bad for your health. A health educator says it's less about dieting, and more about focusing on meal time.

“So with mindful eating, you are not necessarily taking food away," said Jessie Driggers, a health educator, "You’re just eating them with more focus.”

Especially this time of year.

“Typically the average American gains anywhere from 1 to 5 pounds per holiday season,” Driggers said.

Driggers encourages you to get your kids involved, too, because the earlier kids can get involved in their health, the better.

“One of the big things that comes out that we work on is the BMIs, we have seen especially here in Marion County, we have a large population of overweight children,” Bellot said.

“On average, only about 36% of Floridians are at a healthy weight,” Driggers continued.

From kids to working adults, we can all relate to eating out of boredom.

“When you sit there at the desk all day, you do get bored," said Deborah Lambcke, a class attendee, "Or you want to kind of turn away or do something differently, and it will cause you to kind of want to grab a snack."

Driggers suggests using smaller plates at parties and paying attention to your body's cues: are you actually hungry? And noticing when you're full, so you don't over eat.

“with increasing weight, there comes a higher risk of chronic diseases,” Driggers said.

A great way to get involved with others in Marion County trying to focus on their health is to download the Active Marion Project, or APM, app.

Just a few small changes this month can save you five pounds of unwanted weight -- next month.