How to Master Mindful Eating!

A couple of weeks  ago I was with a dear friend of mine dissecting life and its meaning over a glass of red wine. Even though we both have oodles of things to be grateful for – my friend expressed that she doesn’t understand this ”live in the moment nonsense”. Furthermore, like many of us, always finds herself being caught up in the past and stressing far too much about the future.

Understanding all too well where she was coming from I broke it down as follows. Living in the moment isn’t about being extravagant all the time. It means to be present, aware, & mindful of the current moment. So I posed a few questions.

How does the sofa feel under your body? Are you hot, cold, just right? How does the room smell? What does the wine taste like on your lips? How do your checks feel from laughing so hard? Are you breathing heavy, shallow? Describe the feeling of bearing your soul to a good friend on a late winter evening? It takes practice, but often when we feel the most lost is when we ought to ”snap out of it” and return to the present.

Applying this sample principle to the way we eat will turn a tedious, confusing, tasteless ”diet” into a rich and rewarding experience. Practice in mindful eating and tuning into the moment will turn healthy eating into a natural part of your lifestyle! Here’s how; just ask yourself these five questions.

What?

What are you eating? What are the ingredients? Can you read them?  If not, you probably shouldn’t ingest it. Keep in mind that the ingredients are usually listed in order of highest quantity. Therefore if you see sugar, sucrose, fructose, aspartame or any other sweetener, near the top of the list – that is a red flag! Put it back on the shelf.  What are the macro-nutrients? The basics are protein, carbohydrates & fats; which should be in every meal.  Try to aim for food with one ingredient and cook from scratch.

When?

What time of day? Are you eating breakfast at noon? Dinner right before bed? Do you eat only once a day? Snack often? Most people make the fatal error of skipping breakfast which is the most important meal of the day. We should consume approximately 60% of our intake before dinner. Ideally eating something small every 2-3 hours to keep the metabolism in motion.

Why?

Are you eating it for fuel? Or have you crashed around lunch time due to skipping breakfast so you grab a chocolate bar or other quick fix? Did you have a crappy day so you justify a liter of Ben & Jerry’s? Did you see a commercial for something mouth watering and just had to try it? Are you just picking because it’s there? Bored? Try to be conscious of why you eat what you do. Eat extra if you train, less on days you don’t. Eat to be healthy and full of energy. Eat for healthy skin and a happy heart. Eat to nourish your soul :)

Where?

Are you eating it on the go? In front of the TV? Did you work through lunch in front of your computer? It is hard to be mindful when eating if you are occupied with other things. In our fast paced society we have mastered multitasking. You owe it to yourself to sit down, and calmly enjoy your food. Chew slowly. Taste it. Turn off the TV.  Talk to your family, find out what they did that day. Growing up every dinner was around the kitchen table where everyone got to gather over a nice meal and share the daily happenings.

How? 

How does it make you feel? How do you feel after a fruit smoothie vs. 800 calorie Starbucks chemical shit-storm frappuccino? Being mindful has to do with being in touch with your body. Knowing how certain foods influence you & make you feel will make the eating process much more enjoyable. Some can’t tolerate gluten, others are lactose intolerant. We are all different, get to know your body :)

How was it made? How did it get to your table? How did the cow in your hamburger live? How did it die? Chances are if you have an image of a hormone injected animal getting fed alive into a meat grinder instead of Mc. Donalds ”I’m lovin’ It” Happy La-Di-Fucking-Da commercial, you’d probably think twice about that Big Mac.

How many people were involved in the process? (farmer, pesticide company, storage, oil company,  transport company, cashier at store etc.)  The closer to home the better.

How much do I really need? Portion sizes are out of control. There is talk that there is not enough food to feed the world in the face of wide spread starvation. The truth of the matter is, there is more than enough food, there is just a distribution problem. Meanwhile much of the Western World throw out nearly 1/3 of the food purchased. It takes 30 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full. Control portion sized, take your time & enjoy! :)

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