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MINDFUL EATING, BITE BY BITE
It’s March, month three of 2020, and a good time to take a closer look, perhaps a “mindful view”, of where you are in your 2020 wellness plan.
We typically start the year with thoughts about how this year can be better, from food to fitness and overall joyfulness in general. March seems to be just the right time to take stock, and it’s perfect timing, as March is National Nutrition Month®, celebrated each year to provide focus on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and lifestyle habits.
The theme for National Nutrition Month® 2020 is Eat Right, Bite by Bite, an excellent way to focus on what you’re eating, as well as your intentions, before, during and after you eat. In summary, assess where you are, approach it mindfully, and you are on your way to success! Read on for some thoughts and helpful tips to eating mindfully bite by bite.
Have you ever finished a candy bar and wished you had just one more bite? Are you surprised when your hand hits the bottom of the popcorn bucket at the movies? Do you ever feel completely stuffed and fatigued after you eat? These are all symptoms of mindless or unconscious eating.
Mindful Eating is eating with intention; a natural, healthy, and pleasurable activity when it’s done to satisfy hunger. The bottom line is that weight management is not just about what you eat. How you eat matters just as much. Choosing to eat “mindfully,” in other words, is giving meals and snacks your full attention, so that each bite will allow you to have optimal satisfaction and enjoyment without eating to excess.
Mindful eating makes it possible for you to experience the difference between physical satisfaction and fullness. Mindful eating also allows you to feel more satisfied with smaller quantities of food. Learning to savor your food simply makes eating more pleasurable. Knowing what satisfies you and getting the most pleasure from your eating experiences are key factors for a lifetime of joyful eating.
Simple Steps for Mindful Eating
Try the following strategies to help you identify your body’s signals and truly enjoy your food:
1. Use the Hunger Scale
Start by recognizing whether you’re hungry before you begin eating. Is it true hunger, or are you looking to food to satisfy an emotion? Be sure also to not wait too long to eat to the point where you’re famished. One of the keys to conscious eating is to keep your body adequately fed to avoid becoming overly hungry, which just makes practicing portion control that much harder.
While you’re eating, check in with your hunger level throughout the meal. The goal should be to stop eating when you’re comfortably full and feeling energized. We want to avoid eating to the point of being uncomfortable and feeling sluggish.
2. Decide What to Eat, Mindfully
Choose food that will satisfy both your body and your mind and aligns with your health and wellness goals. Satisfaction comes not just from fullness but from enjoying the taste of your food.
3. Create a Food-Friendly Environment
Creating a pleasant ambience adds to the enjoyment of eating and to your level of satisfaction. Try turning off the TV and all other electronics to avoid being distracted while eating. Without any distractions, you can really focus on your internal cues. Appreciate the atmosphere, the company, or simply the fact that you’re giving yourself the opportunity to sit down and enjoy your meal.
4. Eat Mindfully and with Awareness: A Meal Meditation
Take a few breaths and center yourself before you begin eating. This will help you slow down and give eating your full attention. Appreciate the aroma and the appearance of your food. Notice the colors, textures, and smells of the food and imagine what it will taste like.
Decide which food looks the most appetizing and start eating that food first. If you save the best until last, you may want to eat it even if you are full.
Put your fork down between bites to help slow you down and think about chewing each bite at least 20-25 times. Be conscious of all the different sensations you are experiencing.
Pause in the middle of eating for at least two full minutes. Estimate how much more food it will take to reach a comfortable satiety level.
Notice how you feel when you’re finished eating. If you overate, be aware of the physical and/or emotional discomfort that often accompanies being overly full and create a plan to decrease the likelihood that you’ll overeat next time.
5. Apply the Principles of Mindfulness: The Orange Meditation
1. Place the orange on the palm of your hand.
2. Look at it while breathing in and out, so that the orange becomes a reality. If we are not here, totally present, the orange isn’t here either.
3. Peel the orange.
4. Smell it.
5. Take a section, and put it in your mouth mindfully, fully aware of the juice on your tongue and the texture and taste of the orange.
This is eating an orange in mindfulness. It makes the miracle of life possible. It makes joy possible. The act of eating with awareness leads to overall satisfaction, curbing cravings and overeating.
How did eating the orange slowly and with awareness make you feel?
Food for Thought: Quotes to live by!
“Food eaten at a table is better for you than food eaten hunched over a desk, at a counter, or driving in a car. And I believe that, wherever you do it, hurried eating has ruined more digestive systems than foie gras.”
- Peter Mayle, Encore Provence
“Our deepest self-knowledge resides in the body, which a great deal of the time does not speak the same language as the mind.”
- Annemarie Colbin, Food and Healing
Tag(s): Corporate Wellness Newsletters
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