Mindful Eating

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June 26, 2013 by mybattlebuddyfitness


I just got back from a 4 day vacation to Mexico.  It was WONDERFUL, lots of time in the sun, Mexican food, play time on the beach, Mexican food, floating in the lazy river, Mexican food, swim-up bar drinks, and Mexican food.  Did I mention Mexican food?  I am a sucker for Mexican food, specifically chips and salsa.  Put chips in front of me with some yummy salsa, and I can demolish the whole bag.  It is embarrassing.  And it happens without me even realizing that I have consumed way more chips and salsa than any person should in a single sitting.  In addition, we had gone through duty free and bought some chocolates, and then over to the local grocery store to buy some local items (baked goods, spicy peanuts).  There was a good amount of food in our rented apartment, and not the good kind. 


So anyone want to guess what happens when you have unrestricted access to Mexican food, plus you have lots of bad snacks in your apartment?  Bonus: throw on some daytime drinking, which makes you munchie.  ANSWER: WEIGHT GAIN.  In the course of those 4 days, I added 3 pounds to my waistline.  I avoided the scale the first couple of days thinking that the longer I put it off, the higher the odds of no weight gain.  But alas, those 3 pounds weren’t going anywhere.  And it happened right under my nose.  I was there, but I wasn’t there when the food was going into my mouth.  It is a little something that I like to call:


MINDLESS EATING – That eating that you do without thinking about it.  Snacking, grazing, standing around in the kitchen and eating bits and pieces of food without putting it on a plate so you can see how much you are eating are all examples mindless eating. It is the absolute worst way to intake food.  You are not present in that moment, you are not connecting to what is going into your system, and therefore, you are not registering the calories, fat, sugar, etc. that you are consuming.  Mindless eating is the most sure fire way to gain weight. 


And I am sure, some folks are saying hey, don’t be so hard on yourself, you were on VACATION, it was time to take a break.  And I couldn’t agree more.  You need those breaks and you need to allow yourself, give yourself permission to engage in things that are not allowed in daily life.  BUT . . . you still shouldn’t engage in mindless eating, even on vacation.  Popping candies into your mouth, or grabbing a handful of chips as you pass by the kitchen just because they are there doesn’t make sense.  What I should have done was kept good healthy snacks around the house we rented, and then gone out and eaten amazing awesome calories for my meals. 


This happens to all of us.  Guaranteed.  At work, you walk through the breakroom and take a chocolate.  At home you walk through the kitchen and take some nuts or crackers as you pass by.  Out to dinner you eat the bread on the table or mow through the basket of chips.  Mindless eating is tough, it physically is not good (calories and weight), and mentally (you realize what has happened and you feel badly).  What you need to switch to is:


MINDFUL EATING – Thinking about each and everything that goes into your system.  You are a machine, a wonderful, finely tuned, intricate machine.  If you put junk in without realizing, it is like putting in the cheap gas.  You’ll get bad performance, and probably damage the engine.  Put in the good gas, and you’ll be humming right along. 


You need to be present in the moment when you eat.  Be deliberate about what you eat.  Think about where the food you are eating came from.  Ask yourself how that food is going to make you feel.  Decide if the food you are going to eat will satisfy what your body is telling you need.  Eat with PURPOSE, with CONVICTION, to yourself and to your goals.  Don’t just eat to eat.  Eat because you chose to eat.


Tips for mindful eating:


1)      Have set times when you eat: if you need greater frequency, have smaller meals more often.  But don’t eat outside of those meal times.

2)      Eat slowly.  Your body and brain disconnect, and the way to make that connection to being full requires a slower consumption rate.

3)      Make your meals whenever possible.  When you prepare your own meals, you are connected to them, and you know what went into them.  They are in some ways extensions of you.  You will be present in your eating the more you are connected to the food. 

4)      Record your meals.  Track them in MyFitnessPal or some other meal tracking software.  Or go old school, write everything down in a food journal.  You are much less likely to eat mindlessly if you have to write everything down.  There is a mental connection when you have to capture, so you will be more likely to think twice before tossing it into your body. 

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