By Rana Wright
We live fast-paced lives.
We wake up each morning ready to tackle a new day filled to the brim with work commitments, kids’ activities, household chores, and countless other obligations.
Does this sound familiar to you?
We scurry here and there trying to fill every minute, of every hour, of every day. We rush around and tell ourselves (and everyone we know) ‘how busy’ we are. We’ve convinced ourselves this is the best course of action. We’ve bought into the fact we must be “lazy, unmotivated and an underachiever” if we aren’t busy ALL THE TIME.
“Better to busy than lazy.” Is that your motto?
Because of this need to be busy all the time, we look for quick ways to eat. Instead of taking the time to prepare a wholesome meal or snack, we fill our bodies with pre-packaged, processed, sugary foods void of nutritional value.
We are mindlessly eating more and more these days. This can also mean we’re over eating because we’re unaware of how much food we’re consuming when we eat without thought.
Not sure what I mean? Here are some ways mindless eating can occur:
- Eating in your car while driving from meeting to meeting.
- Sitting in front of the TV, computer, or your iPhone mindlessly scrolling, flipping channels or watching a show while you eat.
- Standing over the kitchen sink trying to eat quickly before you are off to your child’s soccer practice.
- Eating right of a bag or box. For example: you eat chips right out of the bag, before you know it the entire bag is gone. Probably not what you may have planned initially.
- Grazing appetizers and drinks at a party right off the table rather than plating your food.
If you’re ready to admit you’re guilty of mindless eating, (and we all are at some time or another) here are some questions to help guide your transition to being more mindful.
- Do I understand my body’s hunger cues?
- Do I know when I am truly hungry?
- Do I know when I am satisfied or full?
- Am I eating because I am hungry?
- Do I eat because I am bored, sad, stressed or depressed?
If you said no, to the first 4 questions and yes to the last question, you might be mindlessly eating and are missing your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues. That’s okay: You’re not alone. I was there too at one point.
What if you (WE) ate mindfully instead?
“Eating mindfully means slowing down, expressing gratitude for the food we are eating, being satisfied with the food we chose, and paying attention to why we eat it.” – unknown
If we take our time and eat mindfully, we can begin to understand our bodies hunger cues. We must be aware if we’re eating because we’re:
- Emotional –sad, scared, worried, stressed, depressed
- Believe you must eat everything on your plate
I’m sure at some point someone tried to cajole you to eat with these words of wisdom:
“Eat everything on your plate or there won’t be any dessert!”
“We don’t waste food”
“There are starving children in other parts of the world you know!”
We’ve all heard these at some point but guilting someone into eating is never a good idea.
Having the ability to chose what we eat, when we eat and how much we eat is a luxury. A luxury many people in other parts of the world (and even right where we live) can’t always afford.
Let’s show gratitude and reverence for food. Let’s honour our bodies by choosing as much whole, unprocessed food as possible.
To increase your respect for your food and body, start by choosing nutritious foods like:
- Lean proteins like egg whites, chicken, fish, lean red meats, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese to name a few
- Avoid carbohydrates like bread – instead, choose yams, sweet potatoes, rice, brown rice, parsnips, etc.
- Eating 5-7 cups of veggies a day and making sure at least 3 of them come from green, leafy veggies like lettuce, kale, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or asparagus.
- Choosing healthy fats such as butter, avocado, fish oil, olive oil, chia seeds, and nut butters
“Mindful eating is about awareness. When you eat mindfully, you slow down, pay attention to the food you are eating, and savour every bite.” – Susan Albers
What if you took the time to enjoy your food like this:
- Plate your food so you can see how much you have.
- Look at your food and admire the colors and textures.
- Chew your food slowly and let your taste buds enjoy the different sensations.
- Set your fork down between bites so as not to overload your mouth
- Have a sip of water in-between forkfuls
- Smell your food and savour the scents
- Be aware of when your body indicates you have had enough food and stop eating.
When was the last time you sat down at a table and really enjoyed a meal?
The food we eat is extremely important and so is how we prepare and eat our food. Let’s prepare our food with love. Let’s select the best quality food.
Let’s learn from other cultures who eat mindfully:
- Eating meals with others is a part of cultural and social fabric.
- Many countries around the world treat meal time as a sacred time.
- Meal times are a time to catch up with your spouse, children, neighbours and friends.
- Eating together is a time to share laughs, troubles, and to connect on a deeper level.
It’s time to take back the enjoyment and sacredness of meal time.
How will you start to honour your body by slowing down and enjoying the food you eat?