In our last Open Kitchen Table talk, we discussed a variety of issues facing women and girls. The idea of mindful eating was a hot topic of discussion. In this guest post, Trish of Dish by Trish talks about the root issue of being disconnected from your food, how mindful eating is a key solution, and offers practical mindful eating tips.
As a registered dietitian, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with women over the years to discuss their health and wellness goals. What I’ve found is quite a few women of all ages seem disconnected from food. Many years of battling yo-yo dieting, eating disorders, or simply finding the time during their busy day to eat properly have left these women with a great of sense of frustration, dissatisfaction and a disconnect from food.
Rather than focusing on what to eat and what not to eat, which most nutrition information dictates, let’s discuss how to eat. This brings me to mindful eating, the act of simply listening to our hunger, fullness and taste cues. When we eating mindfully, we consciously slow down our pace of eating and become more aware of our food and its effects on the body. According to the Center for Mindful Eating, “mindful eating has the powerful potential to transform people’s relationship to food and eating, to improve overall health, body image, relationships and self-esteem.”
Being mindful may seem simple but very few of us regularly listen to these cues. As Americans, we often eat on the go. We do it while watching television, on the computer, reading or talking on the phone. We do it standing up, driving, walking or commuting on mass transit. If you can believe it, I once saw a man inhaling his breakfast while jogging. Something tells me he was operating on something other then his hunger cues.
To help you eat more mindfully, follow these tips:
- Eat away from distractions. Try not to eat in the car, while watching television or on the computer.
- Choose foods that are both nourishing AND pleasurable. If you dislike something, simply don’t eat it. No judgment. Give yourself permission to indulge in decadent foods once in a while and savor it.
- Slow down the pace of eating. Take a few breaks during bites. Chew more slowly. Take a break to breathe. Assess how full you feel.
- Use all your senses while eating. Take time to notice or feel a food’s texture, unique color, and wonderful fragrance. For example, if you’re eating Better Whey of Life yogurt take the time to notice its creamy texture and slightly tart flavor. No two foods are exactly the same. Make your plate beautifully colorful using a variety of foods.
- Become aware of the body’s cues. Pay attention to when you feel hungry and try eating only when you feel hungry. Pay attention to when you feel full or almost full. Try to let these cues guide your decision to eat or stop eating, as opposed to how much food is left on your plate, what hour it is, etc. Do the best you can.
- Reflect on the effects caused by unmindful eating. Unmindful eating may include eating out of boredom, eating when you’re stressed, or overeating to the point of feeling uncomfortable. How do you feel afterwards? Become more aware of unmindful eating.
To learn more about this topic, try these resources:
Mathieu, Jennifer. “What Should You Know About Mindful and Intuitive Eating?” Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Dec. 2009. 1982-1987.
The Center for Mindful Eating. 2006. www.tcme.org.
Patricia O’Keefe RD is a healthy cooking instructor and registered dietitian practicing in and around San Francisco. She authors a healthy food blog, DishByTrish.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.