Mindless to Mindful: The Art of Thoughtful Eating

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mindfulwordle-001 Lately, Dario and I have been running together in the mornings.  We both have a late start at work and decided to take advantage of the extra time before heading into rush hour traffic.  Yesterday we had a pretty good run – not too hot, just a tad bit humid and it was nice and quiet outside.  As we closed in on the last mile or so, Dario started talking (as I huffed and puffed beside him) about how proud he was of our “new” lifestyle.  Our focus on fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly and indulging slightly less in wine and beer.  The only thing he wanted to work on was being able to stop eating when he was satisfied, not stuffed.

thinking-001 Oh, eating more mindfully? I said.  I knew from the look on his face he wasn’t real sure what I was talking about.  I only gave him a short spiel on my idea of mindful eating, as I’m not the best at having a full conversation AND running at the same time.  Can we say side pains?!  Anyways, I figured I share the basics with you since “mindful eating” has been such a buzz word lately.  This is basically what I told Dario just slightly elaborated.

Print Mindful eating isn’t necessarily synonymous with healthy eating.  You can do one without the other.  However, if you eat mindfully, eating healthy and being healthy is a lot easier.  A really good way to describe mindful eating is “eating with intention and attention.”  Have a purpose when you consume something and pay attention while you’re doing it. Some areas you can practice being more mindful are:

  • Being aware of what you eat…all the time.  Every snack, every beverage, every tasting bite as you cook a meal.  Know what the foods are and take the time to realize what you’re eating.
  • Take time to enjoy your food!  Sometimes when we’re rushed, stressed and preoccupied with a thousand other things, we forget to sit back and actually enjoy our food.  Is it spicy?  Cold and refreshing?  Warm and comforting?  Was it crunchy or smooth?  These are aspects of food that can bring enjoyment and satisfaction…as long as we take the time.
  • Listen to your body.  There are little signs and feelings, signals to the brain that tell you “you’re done.”  It’s not when you feel like unbuttoning your pants.  It’s not even when you’re only mildly full.  It’s before full.  It’s satisfied.  Many people will find this hard to feel or know.  We’ve been overriding this system for a long time – either stopping when we’re full or when the food is all gone.  But if you take the time to eat slowly and focus in on your body, you will know when you’ve eaten enough.
  • Consider your day.  It shouldn’t only be us foodies who think about what we’re going to eat all day long.  Everyone should.  When I’m planning out meals and snacks in my head, I want to make sure I’m choosing a balanced day.  Did I get enough veggies?  Haven I eaten 2 pieces of fruit today?  If I’m having toast for breakfast and pasta for dinner, maybe I should skip the bread over lunch.  Think about the balance of food through your day – this will help you meet all those recommended servings.
  • Tune out the noise.  It can be hard to do any of the above tips, if the TV is on, you’re talking on the phone, checking emails or working while eating.  Why?  Because you’re not paying attention.  Which, is kinda the whole point of mindful eating.  So turn it off, shut it down and unplug.  Even if the season finale of Downton Abbey is on…turn it off while you’re eating!

It’s definitely hard to practice all of these things all at once.  Especially if you’re just starting out.  Dario and I are just starting with the whole “listen to your body” thing.  We’ll see how that goes and then add on more as we go along.  But pick something that you feel comfortable working on and just try it out.  See how it goes.  If you get that step down, try adding on another task!  Let me know how it goes!

You tell me!  Do you eat mindfully?  Is it hard for you to pay attention while you eat?  What’s your biggest distraction during meal times?

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