We hear so much about mindful eating, and really listening to and connecting with our body. But even for us in the nutrition profession, that can be much harder than it sounds.
I’ll be honest – more than 50% of the time, I’m not practicing mindful eating – I’m just going through the motions of eating leftovers or thinking about future meals I can make with the ingredients I have on-hand.
Or thinking about what’s next on my to-do list. Alternatively, mindful eating incorporates staying in the present and being aware of your emotional and physical state at the moment. It’s something I’m working to improve, especially through eating without distractions and learning to figure out when I’m really hungry versus board, stressed, frustrated, etc. But
I’ll be the first to admit, I am far from 100% perfect.
Here’s yesterday’s break down, for example.
Breakfast – I woke up starving (per usual) and rather than immediately prepare a balanced breakfast, I stuffed down a few energy bites while heating up coffee. Confession: I did this mindlessly while thinking what I would actually have for breakfast (not being present in the moment). I practically don’t even remember eating those energy balls. Hence, using a recycled picture. Woops. #notperfect.
In lieu of eating alllll of the energy bites, I had some plain greek yogurt with blueberries and hemp seeds (forgot to snap a picture), and a rice cake with peanut butter, banana and honey.
At this point, I was already thinking about dinner later in the day (another strike for me for not being in the present).
While I would say I’m pretty good with including ample servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats in my meals (habit), I often eat way too fast.
I’m also guilty of eating out of boredom or stress at times, which goes against every grain of mindful eating. But ya know what? It happens and ya can’t sweat it.
The tips they tell you for mindful eating:
- eat slowly
- savor the flavor
- eat in silence
- take 28-30 chews per bite.
- drink water and wait 15 minutes to see if you’re still hungry.
- go for a walk and divert your attention – see if you’re still really hungry then……..
I often share these tips with people asking for advice. But the truth is, no one is perfect and even the most passionate healthy-driven people aren’t perfect every single time. We’re not “less healthy” for these instances, you guys – sometimes, we just need to eat what’s available at the time and get on with our day.
I’ll be the first to admit I love food and I could argue that food is my life, but we aren’t eating, chewing and digesting every single minute of the day. Every single experience with food doesn’t have to be nurturing. Food = energy, and sometimes that’s just what we need.
Lunch – I helped out at a fancy lunch event at the Ritz. I didn’t bring a snack or lunch so obviously, 4 hours later, I was hangry (#notprepared).
I was ready to eat whatever they were serving, healthy or not. I’m not convinced that would have been mindful eating but is it worth stressing about?
No. They served a nice, juicy piece of meat over mashed potatoes with some loner vegetables, and a buttered croissant on the side. Ate it all, and in that moment, it was just what I needed.
When I got home, I was debating either taking a nap or doing some work. I really didn’t want to do work and was procrastinating it. I thought, “Why don’t I have a snack?”
I wasn’t really hungry, but moreso, felt the need to eat because I was walking by the kitchen. I soon found myself snacking away.
I had a bowl of Chocolate chex cereal (you must try!) with a couple pieces of chocolate peanut butter brownie/fudge. Apparently, chocolate was the answer to my boredom and procrastination.
It’s seriously one of my favorite weeks here in Charlotte – Restaurant Week! A great chance to try one of many new restaurants on my bucket list.
We went to Copper, a popular place for some of Charlotte’s best Indian cuisine. My three-course dinner included cabbage-asparagus-black bean “chickpea” patties, a scallop “caldin” in coconut sauce with rice, and some sort of dessert that seemed like a mixture between ice cream and sorbet.
Was I even hungry for this dessert? No – I was actually pretty stuffed. But I still ate it…because it was restaurant week, because I was in a non-stressful, comfortable environment with the hubs, and at that moment, I wanted it. And because it’s hard to say no to dessert.
It’s okay to relieve the pressure of food sometimes. Because the company and memories are worth the feelings of extra fullness.
Every single thing you put in your mouth doesn’t have to be super mindful. In fact, I think, sometimes mindful eating isn’t mindful at all.
Do you practice mindful eating? What works for you?
Can you say no to dessert?