This is one of my favorite topics. If you implement these few tips, it is very likely that overtime you will see positive changes in your eating habits, relationship with food, and your weight! Now to be honest, It’s not very sexy. In the title it says simple, but that does not mean easy. It’s mindful eating. You’re probably thinking “Really, Sam?” Yes. Really. Keep reading..
We are born with the ability and internal tools to eat intuitively. This means listening and trusting our body to tell us when we are hungry, when we are full, and what we are craving. However, as we grow up we become entrenched in diet culture. We slash calories, spend hours exercising, try diet after diet, and end up with a weight that continues to creep up. We may lose some weight, but keeping it off seems nearly impossible. This is largely due to losing touch with how to actually listen to our body and hunger cues and instead listening to the next newest diet plan.
If this sounds familiar, these tips will help you learn how to listen and trust your body and internal hunger cues again! Now, this takes time. Think of how long you’ve been ignoring these signs. Constantly eating past when you’re full, not actually tasting your food and rushing through meals, eating when you aren’t hungry or not eating when you ARE hungry.. These are the habits we want to break out of, but it takes practice.
One main phrase I like to use is “Treat each meal like you’re on a first date.” Now here are three tips to implement:
Eliminate distractions. This means sitting down at the table for each meal with no scrolling facebook or instagram and no television. When we use our phone or watch tv as we are eating, they take our attention away from our food. We end up eating way too fast, don’t even taste our food, and are left feeling unsatisfied and tend to overeat. It’s as if you skipped the meal (mentally)! Think of the past two days and what you were doing during your meals. Were you standing up at the counter, scrolling FB, and mindlessly shoving food into your mouth? Were you left wanting more? How did you feel afterwards? Probably not great.
Take 3 slow deep belly breaths before you eat. When we eat, we want to be in a parasympathetic state – also known as our “rest and digest” state. This means we are relaxed, calm, and our digestion is enhanced! If we are in a sympathetic state – also known as “fight or flight” response- we are stressed, anxious, and our digestion is inhibited. To help you focus on the taste of your food, eat slower, and digest properly, taking 3 slow deep belly breaths prior to eating will help. Don’t worry, it won’t be obvious to others or take too much time. It is setting your mind and digestion right for your meal. Try it and let me know what you think.
Taste each bite. Oftentimes when we eat, we are distracted or rushing. This leads to eating too quickly which leads to overeating. When we eat too fast, our brain doesn’t have time to catch up to our belly. Our belly may be full, but our brain isn’t registering those signals yet to tell us to stop eating. So we go back for a second serving of dinner and then end up SO FULL afterwards. To work on this, I want you to chew each bite of food to baby food consistency (this also helps with digestion as our stomachs don’t have teeth to break food down)! Put your utensil down after each bite and don’t pick it up again until you swallow your food. Think of what flavors you taste, the texture, how good it is, etc. This will help you feel satisfied with your meal and prevent constant overeating!
Now think back to the phrase “treat each meal like you’re on a first date”. You hopefully wouldn’t be on your phone or shoveling food into your mouth, would you? Use this phrase to remember these tips; sit at the table, eliminate distractions, take 3 deep breaths, put your utensil down and chew your food completely. Now if you’re thinking “I don’t have the time for this!” then you need to re-evaluate your daily habits and schedule and make time. My nutrition clients have seen great success when implementing these habits and I know you will too. Let me know if you have questions!