Thursday, November 10, 2011

What is Mindful Eating

When Barry asked me to be a guest on his blog, I was honored - that and the fact that Barry was one of my favorite bosses!  I knew that a dream of Barry's was to write a cookbook.  I wasn't sure what kind of cookbook it was going to be, but it didn't matter, I wanted one.  So during his retirement party, I asked if I could be one of the first to get a signed copy.  Of course, he obliged!  Rewind to last year when Barry asked me to work on the nutritionals for his book; I didn't hesitate in saying yes.  Barry sat down with me to go over the recipes and I could tell he was very proud of this cookbook - and he should be!

While reviewing the recipes and working on the nutritionals, I found myself saying, "Oh no, Barry!  Not the heavy whipping cream!" and "Oh my goodness, these portions are huge!"  I knew just by looking at the ingredients and serving sizes that some of the recipes would have more calories and fat than I wanted to advertise.  The dietitian in me kept wondering if Barry could've used less cream and more skim milk.  Granted, food tastes real good with flavor, but did he really need to use all that butter and oil?  I gathered my composure and reminded myself to use my own advice - the best advice a dietitian could ever give - and that is...Eat when you are hungry.  Stop when you are satisfied.  If you practice this way of eating, you will find that you will never be on a diet and you can enjoy foods that contain heavy whipping cream!

(Barry insert here) My wife refers to me as the male "Paula Deen" because I like to use butter, heavy whipping cream and such in my cooking.  I do and always have said what Julie and other dietitians have told me - You can eat anything but do it in moderation and you won't have a problem.  Self-control is the problem and that's why I like Julie's "Mindful Eating."

I am not a fan of diets.  They don't work! If the diet plan you are considering isn't something you can do for the rest of your life, don't bother trying it even for one day.  There is no magical diet or exercise combinations.   The real solution lies within.  How, you ask?  This concept is not easy because we must first listen to our bodies.  Ask yourself:  Am I hungry for food or am I hungry for something else?  Then , listen and trust your body.  Remember that hunger is a physical feeling.  It is not the same thing as appetite, carvings or the desire to eat.  If you are truly hungry, try to make the best possible choice you can that will satisfy your body and your soul.  If you are not hungry, ask yourself what triggered the urge and find what it is you really need.

Try practicing mindfulness while you eat.  Mindfulness is a way of thinking, doing and living.  The practice of mindfulness has been around for thousands of years.  Mindfulness is a technique in which a person becomes intentionally aware of their thoughts and actions in the present moment, non-judgmentally.  Research suggests that those who practice mindfulness enjoy physical and emotional well-being including improved self esteem, better management of depression and reduced blood pressure.

One area of mindfulness focuses on eating.  It is not a diet.  It is not a fad.  Basically, mindful eating is eating to live, not living to eat.  It is eating intuitively.  It is the simple practice of paying attention.  When you practice mindful eating, you listen to your body, eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied.

The key to mindful eating is to be in the present with mind and body.  Eat an orange for it's flavor, smell or texture; not because you are sad, angry or fearful about the past, present or future.

Think about how children eat - they eat enough to satisfy their hunger and then they are ready for play.  if you eat like a child, you will find that you may start eating smaller meals more often throughout the day.  Studies have found when a person eats like this, body metabolism increases; blood sugar levels stabilize; and one finds a healthy weight for their body.

Being conscious of what is happening in your life on all levels - tasting, seeing, hearing, feeling - is the first step to being mindful.  The challenge is yours - nurture yourself...starting with one mindful meal a day.  Then ask are you going to fuel your body, mind and spirit?

I have included two websites to help you learn more about mindful eating.  I use both of these references in nutrition counseling.

Julie has shared two recipes this week.  Three Beans & a Pepper will post tomorrow (Friday) and Pumpkin Mini Muffins on Saturday.  Enjoy!

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