Have you been practicing mindful eating? Recently I had a discussion with my friend Cindy Chan Phillips about diet and mindful eating came up. I have a blog friend who credits mindful eating with how she stays slim being a food blogger. Since we felt this was a very important topic during the pandemic issues, she agreed to write this post for me to share with my readers.
I hope you enjoy what Cindy has to share with you and be sure to scroll to the end of the post to receive her free mindful eating mini lesson.
Table of contents
Too Much Snacking During The Pandemic
I heard from many parents, concerned about their teenagers gaining 10 pounds or more during the pandemic, and feeling helpless about how to help them. Mindful eating is a healthy eating strategy that can help us avoid over-eating.
Like many of you, I am working from home during the pandemic. I began to notice something unusual about my lunch patterns. Often Zoom is logged on (with video off), the web news ready to scroll, or Gmail open on my phone.
When the Zoom meeting is done, I look down my empty plate and go “What?! I finished my plate already?” What’s going on? I got half the satisfaction, feel less nourished, likely eating more calories. Not to mention, I probably became hungry sooner. And I am a dietitian! Not a good deal in my book!
The pandemic has blurred the structure of our lives, and increased our anxiety level, too.
I temporarily let the current situation get in the way of eating mindfully. What is Mindful Eating and why are people talking about it?
What Is Mindful Eating
Eating is a natural, healthy, and pleasurable activity for satisfying hunger. Mindful eating is eating with the intention of caring for yourself. When I prided myself for multi-tasking. I took my eyes off of the intention.
Eating mindfully enables us to reclaim the satisfaction of our meals and snacks, and avoid over-eating. We are less likely to be snacking to fill voids of loneliness or emotional stress when we are fully engaged with our internal hunger cues. You will also learn that practicing smart portion control becomes effortless and does not require much control, after all. Here are 5 of my favorite mindful eating tips:
Slow Down the Eating Process
Mindful Eating is about awareness and intention. Slow down to be aware of your thoughts, feelings and surroundings. Slowing down makes it easier to reflect on the full taste of the food. The phone can wait, the email can wait. Dedicate the intention to the meal on the table. You will be surprised that, with practice, slowing down takes hardly much extra time. No auto-pilot here. The payback is astoundingly positive.
Engaging Your Senses
I was once in a professional event. When the lunch was brought out, I lowered my head to fully take in the smell of the perfectly grilled strip steak. My face must have got pretty close to my plate because my manager sitting next to me thought I was about to drop my head into my food.
When we eat out at restaurants, we call it an eating experience for a reason. The anticipation of the meal being brought out from the kitchen, the aroma, picking up the silverware, adjusting the napkin, feeling how the knife cuts into the chicken. All that goes into heightening the satisfaction of the meal.
Even at home, engage your senses when enjoying the meal. Explore the taste, flavors and texture of the foods. Feel the heat of the spices going up the back of the palate. Taste the level of sweetness of the cream in the chocolate cake.
Is the heat just right in the Coconut Curry Shrimp and Zoodles featured in Shelby’s new The One-Pot Paleo Cookbook? Explore how the burst of juicy savory flavor of the shrimp complements beautifully the nutty taste in the coconut sauce. (I wrote a testimonial for the cookbook, I am partial of course!)
I think you can tell this is my favorite tip.
Are You Really Hungry
Tune into your internal hunger cues and fullness signals. Before you begin eating, pay attention to the level of hunger. Are you ravenous? Is hunger just panging? I encourage my clients to use a hunger scale from 0-10. Am I eating to satisfy a physical hunger or to fill an emotional need? Download your free mindful eating mini video lesson and hunger scale here.
Tune into your sense of fullness as you eat.
Listening to our hunger cues makes it easier to know when we are full. Hunger and fullness are two sides of the same coin.
Feeling the fullness signal works double-bonus. When we are guided by internal hunger and fullness cues, It helps us to eat just the right portion sizes of our favorite foods. Besides, we become more aware when are snacking at night for reasons other than hunger.
Being aware of our hunger level is one of the most intuitive abilities for humans. It is like strengthening a muscle. The more your practice, the more second-nature it becomes.
Feel The Satisfaction of the Food Consumed
Chew slowly. Savor the irresistible rhubarb-sauce infused pudding of strawberry rhubarb pudding cake. Feel like pouring yourself a little bit of wine to go with it? Go for it!
I often tell my clients that all foods fit in a healthy diet. Love what you eat, eat what you love. Do you know how some of you get hungry soon again after eating? The secret is feeling satisfaction.
As we eat, our guts produce hormones and nerve transmissions that signal to our brain that we are full. This marvelous feedback mechanism helps us prevent over-eating. When we eat too quickly, we do not allow our brains to catch up.
Pause and check in with your satisfaction and pleasure sensation as you enjoy your foods. As you practice this, you will be surprised that even a small amount of food can leave you completely happy and satisfied. Without satisfaction, portion control is just external control.
Reduce Distraction While Eating
Eating on the run? Sure, we all find ourselves in that situation sometimes. The principal is the same. Try not to look at the phone while you eat. Multi-tasking makes it next to impossible to practice mindful eating.
Pull up to the favorite table in your house. Give yourself space and time you so deserve. Mindful eating nourishes your body and satisfies mentally at the same time, all from a place of self-care.
Here are some free resources to help you give it a try. Access your free mindful eating mini-video lesson and hunger scale here.
Have you tried any of the techniques before? What works and what does not work? I would love to hear from you!
Cindy Chan Phillips, MS, MBA, RD is the nutrition coach at Cindy Chan Phillips Nutrition and the Past-President of Mohawk Regional Dietetic Association. She helps people eat without guilt, via non-dieting nutrition counseling services, so that people have the energy to pursue what matters to them in life. Read her nutrition blogs on www.cindychanphillips.com. Message Cindy at @cindyphillipsRD on Instagram, or Cindy Chan Phillips Nutrition on Facebook.