Dr. Elaine Ducharme Blog ,Mindful Eating August 27th, 2018

August 27, 2018

About two years ago I saw a magazine while standing in line at the supermarket. It was a special edition of TIME entitled , Mindfulness the new science of health and happiness. I quickly browsed through it and decided to buy it. I teach mindfulness quite frequently at my office and certainly attempt to be mindful in my own life. This particular magazine focused on Tuning in to your body, eating mindfully and short meditations.

I wish I could say these tips are all mine. However, I am presenting them directly from the article in TIME called Fourteen Ways to Eat in the Moment (and love it) by Ellen Seidman.

We all eat every day. We are constantly thinking about or making decisions related to food…what to cook for dinner, what to eat for lunch, what to buy at the store…But when it comes to actually eating and enjoying our food, many of us are failing pretty miserably. I personally eat lunch at my desk way too much. And while doing that, I am reading emails, working on articles and in general not being mindful of my meal. I suspect a few of you might be doing the same thing.

Here are Seidman’s tips for connecting with your hunger, avoiding stress eating and enjoying your food. I have added some of my own comments.

1.        Start by asking yourself if you really want this. Check to see if you are eating because you are hungry, tired, bored or simply craving chocolate!

2.        Sit down to eat. This is a pretty easy one. But, many people eat power bars on the run. Others are drinking protein shakes while driving or walking, picking their meal off their kids plates etc. We definitely eat less when we make our meals an enjoyable experience and take time to taste our food.

3.        Act like a baby. “Kids find food wondrous”, says Seidman. They touch it, smear it, mush it and generally enjoy the experience. I am not suggesting you smear your food around at work. But, taking time to enjoy what it looks like, tastes like and smells like makes eating much more enjoyable.

4.        Have lunch anywhere but your desk. Eat in the break room, take your lunch outside and sit on a bench. Really allow your lunch break to be a break.

5.        Create a food speed bump. Doing a mid-meal assessment of whether or not we want to keep eating is really helpful. It takes our brains about 20 minutes to recognize our stomachs are full. So, slowing down mid-meal allows you to make a decision about eating more. Michelle May, author of Eat What You Love , Love What You Eat, series of books suggests dividing food on our plates in half as an automatic reminder to check and see if we are really still hungry.

6.        Go Wild with Thai takeout.When you try new foods with different flavors and spices you are more likely to slow down and experience the tastes, smells and textures.

7.        Don’t swear off comfort food. Anytime we forbid ourselves to eat foods we really enjoy we set ourselves up for failure. The key is to eat them in moderation and include these foods in an overall diet plan that allows you to nourish your body and spirit.

8.        Have candy (if you want) but don’t keep it handy. Many people will go to the store and buy a candy bar on occasion rather than keeping an entire bag available.

9.        Chew like a cow. Definitely not my words. My father never let me chew gum because he thought it made people look like they were chewing like a cow. But I get her point. Basically pay attention to the crunching sounds you make. It helps you enjoy your food experience and actually can regulate how much you consume.

10.    Beat buffet syndrome. Buffets can really be a problem. We have so many choices right in front of us. A little of this and a little of that can turn into 5000 calories very quickly. And we so often think we are getting “such a deal!” Food should not be about quantity. Think quality, enjoyment and overall nourishment of your body. Seidman suggests making a fist or crossing our arms as a way of telling our brains to stop. Of course, this also prevents us from using our hands to serve ourselves more food.

11.    Play with texture.  Mix things up a bit by freezing grapes for a different texture or throwing croutons or a couple of my favorites, crunchy onions or toasted almonds ) over vegetables.

12.    Follow the rule of two. This one is interesting. Seidman suggests planning your pleasure. Pick a reasonable entree plus any two other things you really want. I get the idea that people may feel less deprived. But you have to be careful that you don’t have a small piece of chicken with a 20 ounce beer and large piece of cake!

13.    Clean that cluttered kitchen. Brian Wansink, the director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University notes that having a neat environment helps you feel like the world is less out of control and reduces the chances of eating from anxiety. I know that I always feel more relaxed if my kitchen counters are clean and my table is uncluttered.

14.    End the meal on a favorite. Save the best for last. When that last bite is something you really love, you will be less likely to feel deprived and keep eating. I really love ending dinner with a small piece of dark chocolate. Besides tasting good, dark chocolate has some health benefits including antioxidants that can improve risk factors for heart attacks and elevate mood!