Anytime I meet up with old friends or get to meet someone from our fabulous community, I without-a-doubt always get asked for some quick and easy ways to further their attempts at achieving their personal goals. So I thought I’d put up some of these tips as mini posts, let me know if you like them and what you would like tips about next!
I am one of those people who are guilty of working through my lunch hour. Working from home and by myself leaves me up to my own devices and giving myself an hour off in the middle of the day feels like I’m slacking or wasting time. It never felt like that when I was working an office job but it does now. This means that I tend to eat whilst simultaneously working; answering emails, writing to-do lists, editing photos and blog posts and it creates mindless eating. Doing so mean I tend to end up snacking more often and earlier that I usually would.
Mindful eating is simply about taking the time to sit down in a screenless and distraction-free area where you take the time to eat your food and mindfully acknowledge the process. It sounds like you’re creating work out of eating but I have come to really enjoy these moments in my day. I eat slower [which is great for your digestive system] and it allows me a quiet moment in my day to sort through my thoughts and take a break from moving at 100 miles an hour with work and it’s also likely my only screenless time during the day!
Mindful eating slows down the process and allows your brain time to catch up with your body. There is a 20 minute delay between your body being full and your brain realising that fact and actually letting you know. Taking your time, instead of wolfing down your food, allows your body to realise that it’s full. By mindfully eating you’ve not only constantly reminded your body that you’re nourishing it but you don’t end up overeating. For those looking at weightloss, this can be a helpful factor!
Mindful eating isn’t just when you’re actually eating but also when you think you want to eat. Our emotions can cloud our judgement in several situations, this includes food. When we feel emotions such as; when we are stressed, upset, frustrated or even simply boredom – we crave food. Eating released endorphins so when we try to deal with extremes of negative emotions it is likely we will turn to food to use as a coping mechanism, usually without us even realising.
This is where you need to be mindful.
I am not saying you should never eat when you’re upset, what I am saying is that you should focus your energy at these times on nutritious foods that are going to fuel your body rather than reaching for sugary alternatives that will make you feel good in the short-term but will affect your moods negatively in the long run. You can also take a look at your eating pattern for the day so far and compare it to a typical day of eating for you. If you’ve had breakfast and lunch with your usual morning snack and it’s only 1pm then it’s possible that you are bored and need something to do [food is always the first thing that pops into my head!] or that you are craving that endorphin rush. If you can, I suggest a brisk walk in the fresh air to get you out of your current environment or a trip to your gym – both offer that endorphin release without idly standing in front of your fridge.
However, all that said, I am still learning to practice another part of mindful eating that I consider to be very important: the association many of us have with food and guilt. I used to feel bad for eating a doughnut in the afternoon or the few biscuits I have with my tea. I figured they were ‘bad’ foods and I would run for ages on the treadmill because I’d eaten them. Working out was a punishment I put on my body “so I could have that dessert” or because “I’d eaten two bags of crisps that day”. I had a black and white outlook on food with it being good or bad and if I’d had a biscuit or two as my elevenses then I’d say f*ck it and binge the rest of the day, telling myself I’d start over again tomorrow. Food is nourishment and I still eat doughnuts and biscuits, I just don’t label them as bad foods, punish myself in the gym because I ate them or binge for the rest of the day because I’ve caved to eating them and “ruined my diet”.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on mindful eating and I hope they not only make sense but help a few of you out there with your relationship with food!
Until next time,