Literally every muscle in my body hurts right now. I am getting schooled at the gym like Billy Madison. I love feeling a little sore, but this is just ridiculous! I refuse to take IB Profin or Aleve, so instead I suffer through it heat and ice packs. Epsom salt bath, here I come!
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Anyways, you didn’t come here to listen to me whine, so let’s move on shall we? Today I want to go over mindful eating. A lot of times we are told to think of food as fuel to move our bodies which it totally is. However, thinking of food like this can lead to certain thoughts and practices around eating food. I challenge the idea that food is simply macronutrients. It is sooo much more than that!!
We tend to look at food as either an inconvenience, emotionally challenging or satisfying or as something to be indulgent about. When we think of food in these ways, it can breed not only an unhealthy relationship with food, but also create digestive issues and weight gain.
Have you ever thought of your food as nourishment? I’ll wait a sec for that to sink in. Yes, nourishment. Food as something other than comforting, scary, challenging, inconveniencing, macronutrients or fuel. Something that actually heals our bodies, delights our minds (and tastebuds) and brings about harmony within us. I know this sounds waaay out there, but think about it for a second. Think about the way you eat a meal. Maybe for breakfast, you grab a piece of toast or something fast and eat it in the car. Lunch is spent either at your desk or with other people. Dinner is usually rushed and wolfed down in front of the tv or computer or yelling at your kids.
What if you were to sit down to a meal with no computer, tv, magazine, mail or music and just eat? Would it be a challenge for you? It was for me! I am so used to having a working lunch that I usually overeat and don’t really pay attention to what I am shoving in my face. After my naturopath called me to be aware of this, I made it my own personal mission to be as present with food as I can. And it has been truly rewarding!
So, here are 5 ways to make meals more meaningful and to reap some pretty awesome benefits from doing so:
1) No distractions
Put away your iPhone, turn off your music, close your books and simply think about what you are eating. Look at your food, smell it. Taste it. Don’t shovel it, but savor it. This not only helps cultivate a healthy relationship with food, but aids in digestion by focusing blood flow to your core instead of directing it to your brain as you multi-task.
2) Use a smaller plate
Half the battle of feeling full is visual. If you use a smaller plate (I use a salad plate) and fill it, then your brain will register that you are eating more than you really are. This is great for reducing portion sizes and caloric intake without feeling deprived.
3) Set Your Fork Down
Have you ever watched other people in a restaurant eating? It can be disturbing. Watch how they lean forward, fork constantly lifted ready to push in the next bite before they have finished the first one. Setting your fork (or spoon) down between bites will not only help you savor food, but allow your brain time to signal hormonal release of Leptin which is the fullness hormone, which lets you know you’ve had enough.
4) Drink Water Before and After, but Not During
Drinking warm water with lemon can act as a cleanser and appetite stifler which can be great to sip on before or after a meal. However, drinking during a meal can flush out good bacteria which aid in digestion, causing gas and bloating. So, skip the beverage during your meal.
5) The Plate Method
The Plate Method is a way of filling your plate to maximize nutrients and keep you satisfied. Fill up half of your plate with veggies, a quarter with meat and the other quarter with either another veggie, fruit or starch. (This can be helpful at holidays especially). Start with your meat, then move onto veggies and save the starch for last. Make sure there is some fat on either your meat or veggies to keep you feeling full and satisfied (I love to make this aioli for just that purpose!)
Try implementing just one of these five strategies this week and see what a difference it can make! If you were to pick one, which one would you choose and why?