I love food, and I love to eat. (Well, who doesn’t?) To me, food is more than fuel to help me recover from training and to keep my body in optimal health. It’s also a source of pleasure. I’ve never been into bland combos of plain cooked rice, chicken and broccoli. I want my food to taste good and I love having variety in my diet. Although I wouldn’t give my up morning oatmeal – truly, if I had to eat only one dish for the rest of my life it would be oatmeal with cottage cheese :).
I’ve been asked a lot for dieting tips and I will write more about that later. But today I wanted to share some other tips about eating. No matter what type of diet you follow – gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, IIFYM – eating more mindfully can make a big difference in your relationship with food. Especially for people who have a history of troubled eating – perhaps a binge here and there, comfort eating or such. I’m not talking about diagnosed, serious eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder etc. as they are beyond the scope of this text and are serious issues that need medical attention and therapy.
Mindfulness practice is about being aware of one’s thoughts and surroundings and focusing on living in the moment. It’s also about learning to accept your thoughts and feelings as they are, not trying to judge them or change them in any way. Practicing mindfulness meditation has lots of benefits.
Today I’ll focus on how you can be more mindful about your eating. It can enhance your eating experience, help fight binges and emotional overeating, and improve weight control.
Here’s my two favorite tips how to eat more mindfully:
- Eat slowly. Chew properly – you can even count the times you chew one piece of food – try to aim for 10-20 times when practicing to really slow down your eating. Put your utensils down between bites. Eating slower than usual gives your gut time to start working on the food – secrete digestive enzymes, stimulate the motility of the GI tract etc. It decreases GI discomfort – something that modern day eating habits of stuffing down as much food as possible as quickly as possible causes to most people. It also gives time for hormones that control satiety to signal your brain you’re full and that way helps to control overeating. When you are eating more slowly, it’s easier to:
- Focus. Take your time to experience and enjoy your meal. How does it taste? How does it smell? What is the texture of the food? Is it hard, soft, crunchy? Use different herbs and spices to get variety – they are healthy and yummy :). Take notice of your surroundings. Try to calm yourself and concentrate on eating. Put away your smart phone and iPad, and turn off the TV. Set the table nicely – try even when eating alone! Colorful veggies, a nice patterned napkin, maybe a candle, especially during these long dark evenings, can highly affect your mood and make eating much more enjoyable.
- A bonus tip: Eat only to 80% full. When you have mastered the two principles above and become a mindful eater – calm, in tune with your body and the Force – test your Yoda-like powers and try to eat only to approximately 80% full. Take pauses during your meal and listen to how your body feels. Is your stomach still grumbling? Or do you feel stuffed? Or maybe just right? Remember that it takes your brain about 30 minutes to register being full after starting to eat! Drink enough water during and between your meals – hunger can also be a sign of thirst. There’s no right or wrong way to do this – you can try taking a bit smaller portions of food or use a smaller plate than usual. You’ll learn to listen to your hunger and satiety cues better, and may even shed some weight without even noticing it by practicing mindful portion control.
I hope these tips will prove handy this weekend ❤ ! Happy Halloween and remember to enjoy your meals!