Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is something I am passionate about. I believe we'd all be happier, healthier, friendlier people if we paid attention to our food and appreciated where it came from. I teach courses on mindful eating and am continually working to improve such practices in my own life. (For further ideas or if you have some to share of your own, please share!)

Here are words I shared with the readers at I Am That Girl magazine:

Put Your Fork Down and Eat!

Ever heard of the sock monster? You know, the ghoulish goblin that mysteriously eats your last sock from the dryer. Well it has a cousin -- the snack monster. You know what I’m talking about -- you’re driving along, munching on your bag of Ghardetto’s snack mix (your “lunch” for the day) when POOF! You reach your hand into the bag and find it empty. Where did the tasty tidbits disappear to? Who is eating our food when we aren’t looking? We are.

Mindless eating (the more politically correct term for snack monster) affects us all. Whether we eat while watching TV, eat on the run, grab food from a snack bowl simply because it’s there or eat in such a ravenous state of hunger that we hardly have time to chew before swallowing, most of us eat mindlessly.

The average American meal lasts less than 10 minutes. It takes 20 minutes for our bodies to feel full, so…you do the math. We end up overeating and eating so quickly that our body cannot digest the food properly. Such practices result in poor digestion, gas, bloating, inability to assess our body’s hunger, unhealthy weight gain and overall reduced satisfaction. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to enjoy the food I eat.

Mindful eating is a gift to give to yourself. By eating in a relaxed manner, you will feel better - physically and emotionally. There is something truly empowering about knowing that you ate a great meal, appropriate amounts of food and that you enjoyed every bite. Consider the following suggestions for adding mindfulness to your plate, your tummy and your life:

- Turn off the TV - a quiet atmosphere is key.
- Eat your meals at a table, sitting down.
- Create a soothing atmosphere by lighting a candle, playing soft music in the background or using fine china instead of Tupperware.
- Eat with chopsticks.
- Eat with your non-dominant hand.
- Chew each bite numerous times.
- Put your fork down (between bites) and eat!
- Shop at farmer’s markets and consider where the food you eat comes from..
- Grow your own veggies.
- Appreciate your food by volunteering at a soup kitchen.
- Take several deep breaths and relax physically before you begin eating.
- Learn to cook and eat foods you enjoy!

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