Sunday, March 15, 2015

7 Days to Mindful Eating

I'm so grateful to Mala Collective for giving me an opportunity to write this article about Mindful Eating, and more grateful that they're featuring my 7-day guide on the first day of their Mindful March Challenge.

As you’ve probably learned after a breakup, stressful day at work, family celebration, or a night out with
friends at a local restaurant, our relationships with food can be equally beneficial and damaging. After battles with eating disorders left me with horrible emotional scars, I learned a crucial lesson about my
own relationship with food: it had become “therapy”, not “fuel”. Striving to better myself and not wage a war with my body, I found fitness, developed a love of working out, and learned how to steady myself in this ongoing battle.
One resource, mindful eating, absolutely helps to create a personal and mindful relationship with your food. But it’s not something to flippantly jump into. You wouldn’t run a 10K endurance race without training for it, right? You’d build up to it! 

You can easily build up to mindful eating by following my 7 day training for mindful eating.
Start simple with “Day 1” and gradually add each new day to your routine.

Day 1: Prepare each meal with a consideration and focus specific towards your nutritional needs and goals.

Day 2: Wait for hunger. Learn to differentiate between hunger and boredom. Studies have shown that most people are truly thirsty when they think they’re hungry. Drink a large glass of water and, if after 20 minutes you’re still hungry, then eat.

Day 3: Begin each meal with some deep breaths and a pause to become fully present. Use your senses. Notice colors, smells, textures, and sounds.

Day 4: Before taking your first bite, take a moment to think about how grateful you are to have this delicious food available and use a food related mantra to maintain your mindfulness.

Day 5: Eat your meal sitting down at a table. Not in the car. Not in front of the TV. Not standing by the fridge. Not at your desk. Not with a book. Not with your tablet or smart phone. It’s just you and your food.

Day 6: Notice when you are about 80% full rather than 100% full and stop eating at that point. Trust, from experience, that with what you have eaten so far, you will be full shortly and if you continue, you'll move from satisfied to stuffed.

Day 7: Pay attention to the food you have eaten and notice how it affected your mood and your energy. If you don't like the way you feel, please do not reprimand yourself with negative self-talk, but rather note the feeling and remind yourself before eating that food again in the future. If you feel good, note that, too, and be grateful.
As you gradually follow each day, building on what you mastered the day before, you will create a beneficial relationship with food. Most importantly, you will have learned to enjoy your food and that food is “fuel”, not “therapy”.

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