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A Thoughtful Approach to Eating

Over the past few years, the term 'mindful eating' has been used to describe a different approach to dieting. This is a very important concept, especially for those of us who deal with a constant barrage of product marketing and easy access to a large array of immediately accessible snacks or fast food meals. From 'you can't eat just one' to 'Open Happiness,' catchy slogans are the background of our days, emanating from radios and sound tracks in malls, and on billboards and covering buses. We may grab a handful of chips or candy without thinking and are surprised and still when they're gone or not be able to recall what we ate yesterday. If that sounds like you ... you are not alone! You can transform mindless eating into a thoughtful approach to food. In doing so, you will take control of your dietary habits and develop a healthier, more satisfying path to your fitness goals.  You can start right now!
  • Pay attention to what you're eating. Know what it is, if it is actually good for you. Consider whether it is something you really want to eat at that moment. Rather than absent-mindedly grabbing lunch and eating at your desk at work, take a break from the phone and the screen. Go to the cafeteria or park, relax and pay attention to your meal. It will help you eat less! At home, spend a couple extra minutes preparing your meal, even if it is as simple as setting a place for yourself at the table. Turn off the television and computer and again, concentrate on the nourishing meal and the good you are doing for yourself. Do you a get a little hungry mid-morning or afternoon? Take a handful of nuts, eat them one at a time and truly enjoy them!
  • Only eat when you're hungry. Seriously. Pause and ask yourself if you are really hungry. Whether it's that bowl of your favorite treat at a friend's home or an impulsive desire for a sweet brought on by stress, anger or loneliness, pause. Give yourself the time to actually make a decision.
  • Prepare your plate before you eat! Understand how much you are actually eating and before you reach for seconds, pause and ask yourself if you are really still hungry! Portion out your snacks too, rather than eating from a box or bag snacking from a container.
These three thoughtful approaches to food can make a big difference in how much you eat. As you begin to be more thoughtful -- mindful -- about your eating habits, remember to give yourself a break. A thoughtful approach to our daily meals takes time to develop.
  • Start with a specific circumstance or meal. Introduce thoughtfulness into your eating habits with a more enjoyable, healthy lunch on workdays or by pausing and stopping yourself from an impulsive junk food buy at the gas station. Add more circumstances as you're ready for them.
  • Make a list of the times when a mindful approach will help your eating habits. Is the TV is on during dinner? Do you automatically grab a cookie when you go in the kitchen? Are chocolates hard to resist?  Keep your list available as a reminder of what you have accomplished and gauge of where you want to be.
  • As you become more thoughtful toward your eating habits, take time to pause and appreciate what you have accomplished.
Remember, mindless eating is a habit that is developed over a lifetime, it will take time to replace it with a more thoughtful approach to eating. Start now ... one meal at a time!

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