It seems like the holiday season comes earlier every year. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are the farthest thing from our minds right now, but soon temptations of delicious sweets and fatty foods will appear, just as other signs of the holidays do. One solution to avoiding these temptations is to alter your eating habits with something called “mindful eating.”
Today our lives seem busier than ever and because so we often multitask while we eat. We try to eat while we drive, while we socialize with friends or family or worse yet, while we watch TV and scan our smart phones The problem with this habit is that when we are not paying attention to what we are eating at a given meal, we tend to overeat, and we tend to eat the wrong kinds of foods. We fail to recognize the cues our bodies are giving us to stop eating or to nourish our bodies with the proper nutrients or liquids.
What is mindful eating? Mindful eating is being present while eating and not being distracted by other stimuli. It is staying focused on what and how much you are eating, so that you know when your body is full and can prevent yourself from overeating. It’s being aware of why you are eating, so you can stop eating because you’re bored, sad, angry, anxious, etc., and it’s taking your time while you eat.
Mindful eating is not a diet. It’s not about self-criticism or comparing yourself to others. It is not a way to lose weight. It’s simply a way to improve your relationship with food so that you know what works best for your body.
How does this help us with temptation? Mindful eating is meant to break you of bad habits like eating snacks just because they are there, or cleaning your plate just because it gives you something to do while you watch your favorite show, or eating all of the treats simply because you lost track of how many you ate. Being aware of the smells, flavor, texture, temperature and other sensations can have a calming, focusing effect that can lead to better decision making.
Sure, this sounds a bit unusual, but we all know it will be difficult to resist unhealthy treats around the holiday season without this discipline. Mindful eaters are better eaters, and all it takes is the determination to be more present.
To see if mindful eating works for you, try it sometime this week. Eat a meal in silence and enjoy the food; think about when your body is telling you that you are full and take your time with each bite. Make sure you are not reading a book, watching TV, checking your smart phone, or carrying on an intriguing discussion. Listen to your body and see if this helps you control your eating.
Learning the habit of mindful eating now will better prepare you for the holiday season ahead