By Alejandra Boker, MBA, RD, IFNCP
Mindfulness, or the state of being conscious and aware of something, isn’t always easy, especially when there are so many distractions and peer pressure surrounding us from family and friends. What about when it comes to mindful eating? I would say it can be even more challenging. More often than not, food is viewed as a pleasure. Would you agree? If you practice mindful eating, some may say you’re ‘exaggerating’ or ‘being too strict’, or simply assume you are ‘on a diet. But you and I both know this can be far from the truth. Essentially what you’re doing is listening to your body. And, guess what? No one knows your body better than you do. Here are some ways to identify if you are practicing ‘mindless eating’ or ‘mindful eating.
Which category do you identify yourself most with? If you find yourself more often in the mindful eating category – GREAT! If you are more in the mindless eating category, here are some strategies that can help you become more mindful.
- Let your body catch up to your brain. It can take 15-20 minutes for your mind and body to communicate. So imagine when you eat fast – before you know it, you are probably ‘stuffed’.
- Be able to identify your body’s signals. Are you hungry? Are you bored? Are you dehydrated? All of these can potentially lead to eating, but your body only really needs food when it is hungry. Some signs of being hungry are – stomach growling, energy is low, or feeling lightheaded. What do you feel when you are hungry?
- Proactively think about your meals. When you plan ahead, you are less likely to make mindLESS decisions about the food you are going to eat.
- Don’t shop when you are hungry. As you can already imagine, we tend not to make good decisions when we’re hungry.
- Put your eating utensils down in between each bite. Slowing down our eating can allow us to digest food better. When eating in a rush or when stressed, your body turns off the digestion process and stays in fight or flight mode. This is where different digestive symptoms, like bloating, acid reflux, or an unpleasant fullness sensation can kick in.
- Be in the moment and enjoy every bite of your food. This is pretty self-explanatory.
Although you may think ‘this is easier said than done, I always encourage my patients to take it slow. Change is not easy. It takes time and repetition. Try to enjoy the process. Remember – long-lasting small steps are better than short-lasting big steps.
QUOTE FOR THE WEEK
“Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing” Jon Kabat-Zinn