As much as we hate to admit it, health is a big deal in our lives. If not trying to craft a perfect beach body I think that most of us want to feel healthy. Instrumental to that is eating. Our food choices directly effect how we look and feel in a big way and, you may have guessed it, we can be helped in our food-ing by mindfulness.
The essence of mindfulness is paying attention. Many of us will likely agree that one of the places that we need to pay attention is our meal times. Food selections are one part of the equation and I imagine we all do a decent job at that. Even if we don't make "good" food choices on the regular I'm sure that most of us at least recognize that we don't eat healthy.
While mindful food selection is incredibly important, and worthy of a completely different blog post dedicated to it, I will be focusing on method rather than substance here. What does that mean? Well, rather than making healthy food choices lets work with the food that we already eat to try and pay attention to how we eat it. Here are a couple of things that have worked for me.
Many of you have probably already heard this one, which is good because it is a great tip. We have pretty darn big servings in this country and eat far more than we should as a result. Combine that with the fact that it takes your stomach a while to realize that it is full and you're very likely to over eat. So, try and stretch your food out over the course of maybe half an hour. Take a couple bites, and put the food down for just a bit. If you have to watch the clock and wait a couple of minutes between bites then that works perfectly. I think odds are you will be surprised by how little food you have before you are actually satisfactorily full.
Essence of mindfulness right here, that is only doing one thing. When you eat, don't do anything else. Also, when you are doing something don't have food around. I used to have this terrible munching tendency where I would get bored and eat. It wasn't really even a conscious thing. I would be sitting there with some trail mix on my desk and I would just scarf it down. Now, trail mix isn't too bad for you but if you polish off a full eight serving bag of it that's when things get a little unhealthy. Just keep the food out of arms length and you won't idly eat it.
Also, if you are sitting down to a meal try to only eat that meal. I mentioned our already big portions above and they come into play here too. The feeling of fullness can be a subtle thing, one that we have to pay attention to in order to really feel it. If we're caught up in a TV program or something then our attention is at best split and we likely won't notice when we are getting full. Then, the only way that we know if our meal is done is if we over eat or if we clean our plate of our too large portion.
Solution? Turn off the distraction and pay attention to the experience of eating. If you choose tasty foods this will likely be just as pleasant of an experience as if you coupled it with entertainment. May take a bit of adjusting, but give it a try. Eat with friends a lot? Maybe share some of your food and talk about it. Nothing says you have to be alone to eat mindfully.