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The Secret to Healthier Eating the Diet Industry Won’t Tell You

  |   Health, Healthy Life Style, Meditation, Personal Growth, Self   |   No comment
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Eating has turned from the basic need to fuel the body to something completely different. People use food as an emotional crutch — giving allowance to eat take-out because you had a stressful day at work or delving into ice cream after a breakup. After you polish off that Ben & Jerry’s, you rarely feel better. If anything, you feel guilt.

The diet industry will say you need to develop healthy eating habits by counting calories and macros. Eat salmon and asparagus and resist dessert, pizza, and wings. I think we all know the ending to that one (spoiler: binging and feeling terrible immediately).

The diet industry doesn’t want you to know that there is a way to have a healthy relationship with food AND be able to eat the things you want. Or shall I say, have your cake and eat it too?

The secret? Merging mindfulness and eating.

There isn’t some trick or magic to mindful eating. If you’ve practiced mindfulness in meditation, yoga, or other practices, the application is very similar. In this case, we are applying mindfulness while we eat.

Mindful eating requires being in-tune with your body and emotions. Eating is to resolve hunger, not sadness, anxiety, or boredom. When you reach for food, you must mindfully observe your emotional state without judgment. The body needs to eat; the mind doesn’t. Food won’t solve your emotional state in the same way that reading a book won’t satiate your hunger.

“Food can distract you from your pain. But food cannot take away your pain” — Karen Salmansohn

To apply mindful eating, take the following steps next time you are hungry. And remember, this is not about being perfect, this is about permission to fully enjoy the act of eating.

  1. Assess your hunger and set your intention. Is it hunger you are feeling, or boredom combined with being not-full? You want to eat when you are hungry. Is your intent to have a snack between meals or to fill yourself up? Are you looking to have a healthy meal or letting yourself indulge a little?
  2. Consider the nutritional value of the food. You don’t need to be a dietician or know the exact values. Reflect on how the nutritional value of the food matches the intention you set. This may seem obvious, but people frequently make this oversight and overeat snack foods. Hint: when snacking, never eat directly out of the container or bag, instead place the desired amount into a bowl or plate.
  3. Sit in a place with few distractions that makes you feel calm. Avoid eating on-the-go or in front of the television — especially if you are eating something really good! You want to be able to fully enjoy the food.
  4. Take in the food with your other senses. Sight, smell, and even sound can be apart of the eating experience. Building a little anticipation will allow you to enjoy it more.
  5. As you take the first bites, notice the taste and texture. Try to see if you can taste every ingredient in the food. See if you can name every flavor you experience. And importantly, remember to put your utensils down after taking a bite. Too often we ruin the bites of food we eat thinking and preparing for the next bite.
  6. Observe your body as you eat. Notice how your stomach feels, how the hunger dissipates. Give yourself time, it often takes our stomach a little longer to recognize we’ve eaten.
  7. Once you reach a comfortable level of satiated, stop eating. Don’t feel pressure to finish. Leftovers mean you can enjoy it twice!
  8. Give thanks and mentally or physically take note of at least one thing you are grateful for relating to the food. Even if the meal was dreadful, you can still be thankful that you have food at all.

You don’t have to practice mindful eating every time you eat. It would be unrealistic to never have to eat in the car again (and please, focus on driving if you do). In other cases, like eating socially, you may not be able to follow every step, but that’s okay. It’s not about perfectly following the steps, it’s about making eating and mealtimes special again. The best part? You can still eat ice cream, and you will probably be surprised at how little of it you need to satisfy you! Making your Ben & Jerry’s pint last twice as long while practicing healthy habits? I call that a win-win.

  • Article by Sarah J
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