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Practicing Mindful Eating this Fall

It’s the perfect time of the year to fall into healthy habits.

Autumn Bridge

It’s no secret that what we eat has a huge impact on our health and well-being, but what about how we eat? Mindful eating is a practice that can help you become more in tune with what your body, which as a result, can help with weight management and developing a positive relationship with food. You may have heard it before: “slow down”, “appreciate the now”, or the infamous “live in the moment”.. but how often are you truly following these pieces of well-intended advice? If you have trouble living and eating mindfully, you’re not alone. It can be difficult to decode what “mindfulness” actually means, and how to practice it in the real world when technology and busy lifestyles take over so much of our attention.

So why is mindfulness important for our well-being? Mindfulness and intuitive eating can help you become more in tune with your hunger cues, put the joy back in eating, and prevent mindless eating. The holidays are coming up quick- and It doesn’t take a mind-reader to see mashed potatoes, pies, turkey, and mouthwatering side dishes in your future! We all need a little help when it comes to staying mindful during the holidays. Still not sure exactly what the whole mindfulness thing is all about? Let’s break it down, and uncover four ways to practice mindfulness during the holiday season.

Mindfulness:

“A state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.” (Psychology Today, 2016)

Intuitive Eating:

Intuitive eating means rejecting the diet mentality, keeping an awareness of and attending to your hunger and fullness cues without judgement and without using emotions to fuel eating habits. An intuitive eater has a peaceful relationship with food and does not label food “good” or “bad”. They eat a balance of “play food” and nutritionally balanced foods. (Tribole & Resch, 2012)

4 Tips to be Mindful This Holiday (Albers, 2012)

1.  Take breaks

Although it’s tempting to scarf down Thanksgiving meals or holiday treats, slowing your pace by putting your fork (or pumpkin cookie) down in between bites, can help satiety cues.

2.  Keep visual cues of what you eat

This means lingering with your plate for 5 minutes after you finish eating, keep wrappers or whatever “evidence” you have of finishing a snack or meal. This will keep you visually accountable for what you’ve eaten. No need to let dishes or wrappers pile up forever- just avoid rushing to clean up immediately after your last bite!

3.  Use your senses

Hear, taste, smell, touch, see. Often we eat in “autopilot” and hardly register eating at all. One of the key components of mindful eating is becoming aware of your senses and using them while you eat, sans distractions!

4.  Let go of your inner food-critic

It’s easy to fall back on self-criticism during the holidays. We tend to eat more often, or eat foods we don’t normally eat, and poof! We associate our lack of self-control with being “bad”. Part of the mindful eating philosophy is staying aware of our inner food critics. Foods are not a measure of self-worth, so when you hear self-criticism, let it go in one ear and out the other.

Turning mindful eating into a daily practice

Mindful Eating plate

Interested in learning more about mindful eating?

There are many books out there on mindful eating that serve as great resources to begin your journey of eating mindfully. “Intuitive Eating” & “Mindless Eating” are two great books if you are new to the topic of mindful eating. These books dive into the psychology behind mindless eating habits and give great tips on how to practice mindful eating in a way that becomes effortless after practice! For a detailed overview of these books, see the table below.

Mindful Eating in the Literature

1.     Book Title 2.    Pages/Readability 3.   Book Overview
 

 

“Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works” by Evelyn Tribole & Eylse Resch

344 pages

 

There is so much great information in this book, so it’s best when read a few chapters at a time, with time to reflect. If you can, keep a notebook as you read Intuitive Eating so you can do the activities in the chapters and reflect on new concepts.

“Intuitive Eating” takes you through the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating. It even has a chapter on raising intuitive eaters and a chapter discussing intuitive eating and its impact on eating disorders. You can discover which “type of eater” you are, or, you can use this as a reference for someone interested in intuitive eating!
 

 

“Eating Mindfully” by Susan Albers

290 pages

 

You don’t have to read the entire book all at once, author Susan Albers makes it easy to do one chapter at a time and many of the pages are mindfulness exercises and bullet-pointed tips, so the pages are a quick read!

If you want to start engaging in mindfulness practice right now, “Eating   Mindfully” is for you. The book is divided into five parts: mindfulness of the mind, body, feelings and thoughts, and mindful eating motivations. The checklists, activities and inspirational mantras make this a painless read for those who don’t love long books.
 

“Mindless Eating” by Brian Wansink

304 pages

 

Mindless Eating is a quick read, and the chapters will keep you interested in the experiments that uncover the mindless eating habits of individuals and how to avoid mindless munching.

Brian Wansink is a professor and food psychologist at Cornell University. Wansink writes about mindless eating topics such as: why we eat more dining with friends, why larger plates/bowls make us eat larger portions, and how color and music impact our eating habits?

Summary of Mindful Eating:

Mindful Eating meal

Have a mindful holiday and savor all of your thanksgiving favorites!

I challenge you to teach at least one family member or friend what you learned about mindful eating.

Happy Autumn, from the Food & Nutrition Department at Sarah Bush Lincoln!

Article by : Katie Horrell

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