Routt County CSU Extension: Try mindful eating instead of dieting
April 10, 2016
Ever plow through a plate of pasta and realize you never truly tasted the flavors of cheese and sauce or find yourself facing a screen and forgetting you are eating lunch? Mindless eating is to blame for missed pleasure in mealtime and is a curse for creeping in excess calories.
Eating slowly and relishing each bite is an effective way to manage weight, achieve health and find more satisfaction with food. This practice is called mindful eating, and it is not about what you eat, but rather, how you eat.
Mindful eating is not a diet, nor is it about restricting anything at all. In fact, its very essence is anti-diet, and for many, mindful eating has resulted in outcomes that outweigh popular weight loss programs.
This approach supports healthy eating habits, because it shifts the focus from excluding foods and instead, encourages an all-foods-fit philosophy. It works, because it fosters a mind and meal connectedness that leads to conscious eating and, ultimately, more pleasure from less food.
To eat mindfully is to eat with intention. Intentionally choose food that is satisfying and nourishing, and understand why you are eating by connecting with hunger and satiety cues from your body. To eat mindfully is to eat with attention. Bring awareness to what is on your plate, use senses to experience food, recognize how your body feels and simply be present while eating.
Our relationship with food — similar to any other important relationship in our lives — deserves time and effort. Consider setting mindful eating goals following this simple recipe.
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• Turn off autopilot eating. Eating the same thing every day can be boring and draw you to find distraction. Breaking up your breakfast routine and swapping out sandwich options can make mealtime more interesting.
• Use senses to explore food. Smell the blend of spices in a bowl of soup. Appreciate the appearance of a colorful salad. Experience the many textures of pizza. Truly taste the complex flavor of chocolate or coffee.
• Slow down and be attentive. You took the time to prepare a meal, and you deserve to enjoy the whole mealtime experience. Mealtime is not a time to multi-task. Focus on your food. Turn off the TV, close the computer and eat without distraction. Put your fork down between bites to give yourself time to taste your food.
• Focus on quality not quantity. Quality ingredients can make mindful eating a more intense experience. A sliver of decadent chocolate pie might be all it takes to curb a craving when you are tuned into texture and taste. Using quality ingredients with rich flavor is one way to reduce portion sizes.
• Carefully look for cues. Gauge your hunger level when you eat. Recognize whether you are actually hungry. While eating, acknowledge when you reach satiety, the perfect place between starved and stuffed.
• Indulge. Eating should be a positive, non-judgmental experience. Give yourself permission to nourish yourself with indulgence. There is no room for guilt with mindful eating — just pleasure.
Healthy eating is about more than eating nutritious food; it is about practicing a positive and healthy relationship with food, as well.
Kalyn Clemens is completing a master's degree in human nutrition from Colorado State University and has interned with CSU Extension in Routt County. For more information, call 970-879-0825 or email firstname.lastname@example.org