Welcome to this week’s Inspiration to Fitness subject: Mindful Meals.
We all know (well, most of us anyway) what we should and shouldn’t be eating, but sometimes the desire to eat things we know we shouldn’t wins us over. If we could all eat to satisfy our physical hunger, no one would really be overweight. And at the same time, if we could really pay attention to what and how much we’re eating, we’d all be a lot healthier and weight loss would occur naturally.
But since food and eating evokes so much emotion makes you feel happy, comforted, relaxed, satisfied and more, most of us have a hard time losing and maintaining a healthy weight because we’re emotional eaters.
I put myself right in that category too. In fact, this week, I had a really stressful client that irked me so much, I kept anticipating their negativity and I would run to my kitchen every time I thought of them. I must have eaten 1,000 extra calories over the course of three days when I was working with them closely to finish up a project. It felt like no matter what I did for them, it wasn’t enough or exactly what they wanted. As a Type A personality, the situation made my stress levels soar, resulting in my rush to the refrigerator for some consoling.
However, food is a poor psychotherapist because it doesn’t help the root problem in the first place (I’m a type A personality that needs better ways of managing stress) and it only makes you feel stuffed and even more emotionally in the dumps.
Theres a whole area of nutrition counseling that focuses on ‘mindful’ eating because numerous studies show that when our mind is distracted or we are eating for other reasons, it leads to less satisfaction and more calories consumed.
In our fast-paced, multi-tasking world, one of the consequences to eating while working, texting, driving or in front of any screen, can result in eating up to twice as many calories compared to if you simply eat and can take the time to appreciate and taste your meals and snacks.
To help you start eating more mindfully, here are five steps to take:
1. Know what drives you to eat: Get a handle on your emotional eating by keeping a food journal and noting how you feel before you eat. Are you truly hungry (is your stomach talking to you?) or are you just bored, tired, stressed or lonely?
2. Eat only when you have a plate, utensils, table and chair. Do NOT eat in the car, in front of your desk or computer, at the movie theatre or when doing other activities.
3. Take me time every day. Whether it’s 15 minutes or 30 minutes, carve out some alone time to decompress and unplug yourself from the wired world.
4. Enjoy nature. Research shows that getting outside and seeing daily miracles of the world and nature is great for your soul and may help curb your cravings.
5. Move your body. Of course, one of the best stress-relievers and ways to improve your diet is with daily physical activity. Mastering a specific move or getting a PR in sport helps boost self-esteem and makes you feel so much better that you won’t need to turn to your food to feel better.