Swap Mindless to Mindful Eating
Do you find yourself losing and gaining the same ten to twenty pounds over the years? That is called yo-yo dieting. Mindful eating might be the answer to breaking that cycle. No need to be “on a diet” and feel deprived and frustrated.
The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends using your personal Eating Cycle to become more mindful of your eating choices. There are five questions that help establish the Eating Cycle. These questions can help you understand the issues that affect your eating decisions in regards to not only what and how much you eat, but why you eat in the first place. The first question in the Eating Cycle is “Am I hungry?” True hunger signals are gnawing, growling or rumbling in the stomach, weakness or loss of energy, slight headache or trouble concentrating, irritability or crankiness. False hunger signals are thirst (you think you are hungry when actually you are thirsty), cravings, emotions and external cues such as mealtime or social events. If the answer is yes to “Am I hungry?” then you ask the second question, “What do I want?” Maybe a certain food, flavor or texture will come to mind. The next question is “What do I need?” Think of foods that are both healthy and enjoyable instead of “good” or “bad”. Planning ahead to have a variety of foods that are both satisfying and healthy will help to answer the forth question, “What do I have?” The final question is “How much do I need?” Eat enough to satisfy your hunger and stop eating before you feel too full. The goal is to feel energetic and comfortable after eating.
Other simple swaps suggested by The American Academy of Family Physicians are to eat from smaller plates and bowls, use smaller serving spoons, put food on a plate or in a bowl instead of eating straight from the bag, buy food in smaller containers and do not supersize your drink. Also, you do not have to clean your plate if you are full. Focus on what you are eating and really enjoy the taste, flavor, texture and aroma of the food. Slow down your eating by putting your eating utensil down between bites and join in the conversation at the table. Also, do not let yourself get too hungry before you eat and have a relaxed attitude about your eating.
Being “on a diet” implies that at some point you will go “off the diet”. Instead, let your instincts be your guide. Learn to listen to your hunger signals so you can determine how much and when to eat. Make mindful decisions about eating by paying attention to how you feel. Trust your body to tell you when and how much food it needs. Instead of obsessing over good food, bad food, counting calories and going up and down on the scale, relax and enjoy your food!
Vicki Hayes, Fort Healthy representative and community member