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Secrets of the Skinny: Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating

I love to shock and awe but the reactions to yesterday’s post Secrets of the Skinny:: Multiple Foodgasms  was off the chain!! The emails I got shocked and amazed me because I think my you all got me totally wrong.  I am not back peddling in the slightest when it comes to eating healthy nourishing food.  I still say a real foods diet with plenty of low-ground veggies and fruits,  grass-fed, free-range or wild meat in moderation if you eat it along with raw dairy and everything else bringing up the rear. What I meant by not depriving yourself is not to settle for mediocre and to stop focusing on every little morsel and what it is going to do to your body.  Instead, eat delicious healthy fresh food and the times you treat yourself (which are still only going to be 10% of the time most of the year) really focus on picking only the ones that give you such immense pleasure you want to cry with joy and then….savor them with every ounce of your being!

So now, at the risk of totally blowing your mind today we are going to talk about mindful eating and how unplugging and really savoring your food will help you shed pounds and keep them off, allow your body to derive maximum nourishment from your food (because if you aren’t paying attention to how, what, and when you are eating you probably aren’t chewing anyway), and help ease digestive issues and actually heal your body in ways you never expected!

What is mindful eating?

Formost of us in our busy lives we eat where we can: standing at the sink, behind the wheel, in front of a computer, at our desks—just about anywhere except the dining table. In our “go, go, go” society, eating is considered something you have to fit in and is often a mindless task rather than an enjoyable, nourishing experience.  Meals that used to be enjoyed around the family dinner table have been replaced by six different dinners at six different times, TV or Kindle in front of us, nobody talking, sharing or connecting with food as the centerpiece of social bonding. Mindless eating and overindulging can negatively impact our bodies with countless  issues like digestive disorders and obesity. Eating mindfully, on the other hand, encourages proper digestion and can foster optimal nutrient absorption, promote ideal body weight and help you develop a healthy relationship with food.

Mindful eating is not a diet. It is a conscious method of eating and savoring food for balanced health and pleasure. Mindful eating brings awareness and appreciation to the experience of eating. When you slow down and pay attention to how and what you eat, you’re more likely to make better decisions that will nourish your body. (You’ll also allow your stomach to tell your brain you are full the way it should!)

The guide to mindful eating

1.  Unplug. Sit down.  Breathe.  When the TV is blaring, the newspaper is sprawled out in front of you, you are attempting to write a blog post or a report, or doing anything other than paying attention to what and how you are eating chances are you are going to shovel food in your mouth without even being aware of the ‘mouth appeal’ of the food, or how much you are eating.  You eat with all of your senses.  It’s time to reengage all of them and reconnect with your food instead of the news (which is just going to be bad anyway and cause a stress reaction which will cause inflammation in your body.)  The game will be there after you eat.  The Xbox is not going to grow legs and walk away.  The world will not end if you don’t get a blog post up right this second.

2. Chew, chew, chew. Digestion begins in the mouth.  All that saliva is there for a reason.  The mastication from the teeth coupled with the enzymes in the saliva start the digestion process and not chewing properly sets your colon up to have to deal with undigested particles of food.  Hear me loud and clear.  Your intestines don’t have teeth!!!  These undigested particles cause bloating, indigestion, and gas.

3.  Slow your roll.  Did you know it takes a full 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain it is full?  Pausing in between bites (while you chew, chew, chew), even putting your fork down between bites almost guarantees you are going to eat less than if you shovel the food in like snow in a North Dakota snowstorm which means your weight has a fighting chance of not skyrocketing, if not losing several pounds.  Not filling your stomach to the point of popping like a tick means less stress on digestion, too.

4.  Lose the liquids.  Hydration maintains healthy digestion, however, drinking too much fluid during or right after a meal dilutes necessary stomach enzymes and acids putting a strain on digestion.  Drinking water or other fluids 15 minutes or more before meals or 15 to 30 minutes after will ensure strong digestion and reduce your chance of gas and bloating.  If you must have liquid during a meal, sipping room temperature lemon water, or mint or fennel tea will aid in digestion and not flood your body with liquids.

5.  Don’t eat unless you are hungry.   While you might think this is a n0-brainer, mindless snacking or emotional eating does more to derail a healthy eating plan than just about anything.  First, snacking or emotional eating tend to be “junk” food that never truly satisfies the body or mind for long.  Second, because most people are conditioned to believe they need breakfast, lunch and dinner, even if they aren’t hungry, all that snacking between meals just leads to added calories, and less satisfaction during meals.  It also means those foods that should be savored as treats also become less “foodgasmic” because you never really give your taste buds a break.

6.  Fill up your senses.  Rather lyrical, this one, eh?  Eating really does involve all five senses and mindless eating generally involves MAYBE, if you are somewhat mindful, touch (as in the feel of the Doritos bag as you tear it open) and well, ok, maybe it involves one sense….  and that’s if you are really lucky.  Eating can be a stimulating, exhilarating experience.   Using colorful fruits and vegetables on a beautifully arranged stoneware plate can be a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.  Allowing yourself to feel the cold steel of the flatware and hear the clinking of a fork on a plate can be magical.  Allowing yourself to be aware of the “give” as you cut into a spear of roasted asparagus and then smell the earthiness as it glides into your mouth only to be replaced with a grassy sweetness as you take your first bite can really help you appreciate the food that nourishes you rather than the “false foods” that not only have no nutritional value but are devoid of real pleasure.

7.  Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.  As a child, we said grace every night thanking God for the bounty His hand bestowed on us.  I grew up thanking my grandmother for the food she had lovingly cooked us and was made aware of all the people who were not as fortunate to have such a meal.   Taking the time to acknowledge the intention of the prepared meal, of the effort that went into bringing the meal into creation, the shopping for the ingredients, the prep work, the cooking and the serving will help set the mood for a calm and satisfying meal.  Teaching your children to be grateful through offering a prayer or blessing or simply thanking the person who prepared the meal can be the foundation of establishing healthy eating patterns in the future.

Remember, food is infused with the attention and intention of the one that prepares the meal so never cook angry or stressed.  Make cooking a family affair, a social affair and eat while bonding as a family and make the no TV, texting, phones, or computers while at the table a hard and fast rule.  If you are single, put on some beautiful music and light some candles.  Enjoy the solitude and really focus on connecting with the food.  Eat real food.  None of this works if you are unplugging the TV and then eating McDonald’s……

7 replies
  1. Rosey
    Rosey says:

    One bit of something incredible beats ten bites of anything mediocre any day! It really is a sensory delight.

    And crappy food (like you talked about in the article I just read from yesterday) really does make you feel tired and…well, crappy! It just makes sense to eat the food that delights you, and is still really good for your body too. It’s win-win.

  2. Kenya G. Johnson
    Kenya G. Johnson says:

    The second and third are “my bads”. I am sure that would make all the difference. I often eat standing up too. That’s a shame. I just rushed and ate a salad, one I love but I didn’t really enjoy it. One thing I manage to savor is sushi rolls. What the point of enjoying sushi if you scarf it down. I need to set my mind to pretend like I am eating sushi 😉 Great post!

  3. Crazed in the Kitchen
    Crazed in the Kitchen says:

    These are all great suggestions that are easy to follow. The one that kind of blew my mind was the one about not drinking too much water while you eat. I tend to drink a LOT of water while I eat, so I’m going to try to dial it down a bit now. Thank you!

  4. Eli
    Eli says:

    “Mindful eating brings awareness and appreciation to the experience of eating.”

    Any time I’ve been able to take some pounds off or just generally feel better – it’s been because of such an awareness. It wasn’t that I’d given up the things I love, it’s that because I slowed down to savor them, I ate less of them, but enjoyed them more.

    Excellent post!

    • thedetoxdiva
      thedetoxdiva says:

      Oddly enough it’s what I teach all my clients that, unless we are talking some serious junk food, enjoying a few treats now and again and SAVORING them will actually help you reach your goals faster!


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