So, this week we are looking at mindful eating as part of our #MindfulMarch campaign. If mindfulness is about being aware and focused on the present moment it makes sense then that mindful eating is focusing on the meal, the food and eliminating any other distractions. While there are lots of tips we will be sharing across Twitter and Facebook I wanted to blog about the most common problem I come across with clients… the mindless eating.
Let me explain, Have you ever sat down to the TV on a Friday night with a big bag of Doritos, or a tub of Pringles (my preference!!) or a “share” bag of Malteasers (my friend Yvonne’s favourite!!) and as you watch the programme or film you keep dipping your hand into the bag/tub/bowl and munch away until you suddenly find the bottom and no goodies left? :O Usually your first thought is “feck! how did I manage to eat ALL of them on my own” (or with a little help perhaps) and even worse when you turn over and read the label to see the suggested servings per bag is 6!! Whats even more distressing is that often your “appetite” is not satisfied as you were expecting at least one more handful so you often return to the kitchen in hunt of something else to satisfy the craving. The real reason you are not feeling satisfied is because your brain is distracted by the TV and is not focusing on really tasting or enjoying the food, it is just a habit and a bad one at that. This is the best and most common definition of mindless eating I come across. So then, we need to consider mindful eating and how to switch back on our brain to focus on the food we are eating.
“Mindful Eating” seems to be a term that is putting off my members and followers online, people just don’t seem to get it and thats ok, this is after all a journey we are taking together to learn more, try new things and try take a more holistic approach to our health. Really mindful eating is the opposite of the above example. Its’s about taking time to enjoy our food and focusing on it. It’s about limiting distractions while eating. Mostly, it’s about enjoying our food!
When we eat mindfully we often find less food provides satisfaction so it can be incredibly beneficial to those on a weight loss journey to adopt mindful eating techniques. I’ve listed a few simple tips to get you started on mindful eating and if you would like to learn even more we are registering interest for a 90 minute workshop on this topic so just fire us over a mail on firstname.lastname@example.org if you want in!
1. Presentation is Key
I know it sounds really cheesy but the truth is we eat with all of our senses and this starts with both the dining area and also the presentation of our food. Always lay the table and make it look inviting, same goes for your food. Beautiful food is a lot more enticing and can provoke thought as you eat it. It keeps you focused on the matter at hand – eating!
2. Eliminate Distractions
When we eat our main meals that is what we should do – eat. We should not be on the phone, we should not be watching TV, sending emails or any other distractions. Some background music is ok!! The act of sitting to the table and dining is a simple but important step to mindful eating.
3. Control Portions
When snacking decide on your portion in advance. Use bowls or other dishes to lay out what you plan to eat and do not go back for a refill!
4. Beware of Triggers
Does your cup of tea always come with a choccy biscuit on the side, your wine with cheese or your beer with peanuts or crisps? If yes, then these are triggers. Does your cinema trip always come with a large buttered popcorn? If so, thats a trigger then too. Finally, does your Friday evening always mean a takeaway?… I think you get my drift. Habits can be dangerous because we do something just because “that’s the way it is” not because we necessarily want or feel hungry for the foods.