I had a revelation while preparing dinner a few nights ago. I was grilling meat and vegetables (mmm yummy), and I found myself nibbling while I cooked. Sure, it was all relatively healthy stuff -- vegetables, a few nuts, bites of grilled chicken -- but by the time I sat down to dinner I realized that I had probably already consumed at least half a meal worth of food.
In that moment I decided that I need to train myself to take a beat -- a mindfulness moment -- before I eat anything. I eat healthy foods, but I need to become more aware of HOW I eat. Too often I nibble on vegetables when I am cooking, I stand up to stuff food down between clients, and at night I eat in front of the TV. I need to become more mindful of how I am eating!
So, my goal for the next 30 days is to take a mindfulness moment -- an awareness pause -- before eating anything.
Now, I know I am not the only one who eats mindlessly. I think so many of us eat without thinking, without awareness. So join me, commit to spending the next month being mindful. How?
1. No eating while standing!
Don't mindlessly eat while you are cooking, during meetings or while socializing at a party. Make snacking while cooking off limits -- make this what I would call a "non-negotiable." At parties, drink water throughout the night so that your hands stay occupied and so you don't become dehydrated. Before you put anything in your mouth ask yourself if you really want it. Before I nibble on party snacks I try and remember to ask myself: "Kathleen, will your future self be happy that you consumed this?" If the answer is no, I try and put the food down.
2. Take the "party five"
At parties, when you want seconds or an extravagant dessert, make yourself take a mindfulness moment by waiting five minutes. Have some water and consider how you will feel if you consume the treat. If after five minutes you decide you "have to have it," go for it. Enjoy! Life is worth living, just don't eat things you don't truly love.
3. Use my 30-minute rule
At home, when you want an after dinner snack make yourself take a "mindfulness moment" by waiting thirty minutes before eating the snack. Try and get involved in another activity. Read a book, do some crafting or even do some chores. Usually once you are involved in something else you will forget about wanting chocolate cookies. If after thirty minutes you still want something, try and have something healthy like a few vegetables and a tablespoon of hummus.
4. Stop eating in front of the TV
No explanation needed. Instead of nibbling while you watch TV, drink water or do an activity that keeps your hands busy, like knitting. When I want to snack in front of the TV I try to distract myself by using the foam roller or stretching.
5. Put your fork down in between bites
Don't hoover down your food. Slow down, savor the flavors. Place your fork down between bites. This will help you enjoy your meal and the company you are with.
6. Be mindful when you eat out!
Look at the menu online before you go so that you can chose what you will eat in advance. Deciding what you will eat while you are still at home will allow you to be mindful: you will be able to make the decision with your brain instead of your hungry belly. When you arrive at the restaurant, don't even look at the menu, just order your predetermined choice. If the restaurant is known for big portions split your main with someone, or ask the waiter to only serve half your meal. Take the rest home.
7. Don't make decisions about food when you are starving!
Don't grocery shop, wander in a convenience store, run errands, go to a party or decide what is for dinner when you are hungry. Always carry a healthy snack with you -- like an apple and almonds. Have a clear head and balanced blood sugar will make being mindful easier. At home, have easy to assemble healthy foods already prepped and waiting so you can make up a healthy meal as quickly as you can microwave pizza.
In conclusion, I know this challenge won't be easy. It is always complicated to change a habit but I am excited to try. The end result will be worth it! Instead of being too hard on myself and expecting perfection, I am going to try my best to enjoy the process.
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