How do you want to eat this year?
Notice that the question is not what do you want to eat but, rather, how do you want to eat? Year after year, people approach this season of resolutions with a desire to lose weight, eat healthier, and get into an exercise routine. This year, I’d like to challenge you to think less about what you are going to eat and more about how you are going to eat it!
Consider the difference: If you are just changing what you eat, you may switch over to eating lots of leafy greens and heart-healthy fish. However, if you rush through your meals, multi-task while eating in front of your computer, and choose to eat “FFCFFF” (my abbreviation for fat free, calorie free, flavor free) foods…You will NOT enjoy this new way of eating or achieve your goals. In fact, I might argue that you’ll dread it and end up with the same frustrating end to next year. So what can you do to change how you eat? Start with the following practical tips:
• Don’t multi-task while eating! I know, I know…You are busy at work, there is laundry waiting, and the kids need help with their homework. Pay attention to your food at a table (that’s the round thing in your dining room with all of the papers on it) and use a fork and knife (those are the silver tools that kids say look like a sword and pitchfork). Set a timer for 10-15 minutes for your meal-time and see if you can eat….just eat…without cell-phones or distractions. You might be surprised with the flavor and fullness that surrounds the eating experience.
• Use your senses. Remember those? Sight, smell, touch, sound, and then taste. The next time you pick up a sweet treat or salty snack, take 5 minutes to analyze the food according to your senses. Pick up that piece of chocolate and describe what you see, smell, feel, and hear as you hold the tiny wrapper and open it. Then, take a bite, close your eyes and let it melt in your mouth. Maybe you won’t actually need another one once you’ve eaten this one mindfully.
• Chew your food. No, I’m not talking to you as if you’re five years old. Research suggests that people who take a bite of food, put their fork down, and chew their food eat slower and, thus, take in less calories. The extra time allows your brain time to signal to your stomach that you are full. For the average person, this “full” signal typically takes 15 minutes. By that time, most of us have overeaten and are on our way back to our to-do list while feeling like we ate too much. So, if you’ll slow down and chew your food you may eat less and enjoy it more!
• Recruit a fellow-eater. Sure, these tips feel strange and are initially inconvenient. They will take some practice before you feel like you are really eating differently. Find a friend, co-worker, spouse or child who will commit to changing how they eat, too. Then, talk about your eating experiences together. Meet up for coffee or lunch with the goal of having a good conversation AND enjoying the eating process together…mindfully.
Mindful eating is a new start…but an old tradition! If you find these tips intriguing but would like to learn more, contact us for a nutrition consultation where you can find out more about what AND how to eat differently this year.