A new approach to mindful eating | 4 tips to get started

by | Motivational Mondays

You know that empty feeling after you eat? The times you think, “that was so unsatisfying.” What if there is a different way to get the most nutrition and enjoyment from your food.

A client, who we will call Eric, was recently diagnosed with melanoma stage III. Eric is a young and otherwise healthy guy who typically eats a plant-based diet. He admitted to regularly eating a bowl of sugary cereal and milk at the end of the day for many years but with the diagnosis he a made the decision to cut out those foods. Eric is especially sensitive to sugar and has become choosier about what sweets he will eat. In the beginning, after the diagnosis, Eric was very fearful of food. He questioned what foods prevent a recurrence of cancer and what he should avoid.

It’s not what you’re eating, it’s how you’re eating it

Eric told me he was visiting a retired gentleman who offered him a Hershey kiss. Eric politely accepted this treat with the intention of getting rid of it later, at which point the gentleman said, “while you’re having one, I’ll eat one too.” In order not to offend his friend, he decided to join him in eating the chocolate.

I asked Eric what he’s learned since easing up on his sugar and carbohydrate restriction over the past two months. Eric thought for a moment and said he realized he needs to put less emphasis on what he is eating and more emphasis on how he is eating. This literally stopped me in my tracks. In a previous conversation, I had briefly mentioned mindful eating to Eric, but didn’t go into much detail. That’s why I was so impressed at how he came to this decision. Eric noticed after eating a meal while being distracted with computer work or in a meeting it did not feel as nourishing as those he savored and enjoyed more mindfully. For him, that means taking time to eat without distractions. Slowing down to savor the look, taste, smell, and textures of the foods.

The food and cancer conversation is highly controversial and there is a lot of conflicting science-based evidence out there. At Well-balanced Nutrition, we encourage people to embrace natural food, such as those items that are clearly coming from the farm, orchard or mother nature. I still have not come across an Oreo bush or pizza tree. When reading a food label, I don’t often look at the numbers. I want to know the ingredients. What is in the food?

Eric recognizes when he eats more slowly and enjoys the meal mindfully it feels more satisfying and enjoyable. He decided to take this a step further and plan for future meals. For instance, when thinking about Thanksgiving, he plans to take more time during that meal to savor the smell, taste, and appearance of the special holiday dishes. He plans on taking regular breaks throughout the meal – putting the fork down and enjoy the moment.

Here are 4 ways to start practicing

  1. Spend time considering the foods that are #WorthIt beforehand to make a mindful decision each time you eat
  2. Before shared meals and holidays imagine the event and sitting at the table
  3. Spend time savoring the meal (the look, taste, textures, smell, etc.)
  4. Stop during the meal – perhaps consciously putting the fork down in between bites – to slow the pace of how you eat

Food for thought:

We know making healthy food choices is important for reaching our health and wellness goals. When I’m being mindful and tuning in with what I really need, I tend to avoid the less nourishing options because I know they won’t make me feel better. How can you include a mindful technique to get more from your meals?

Let us know how we can help you on the journey! Contact us to get started today.

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