I love to eat. I mean, really love to eat. I enjoy food in all its glory, the taste of a good meal, the energy it provides, the comfort at times. Often I find myself utterly disappointed that I’m not a foot taller so I can eat more. Yet the truth is I’m a low five footer and even though I can eat as much as my much taller comrades I shouldn’t.
Of course, sometimes I get carried away and eat as much as Michael Phelps at the Olympics, which my body shows almost instantly. However, I’m not a dieter. I managed once to make it one day through a cleanse. And mind you, this was a cleanse that involved eating real, live food. That is the extent of my diet experience.
Part of that is not wanting to deprive myself of anything that brings me happiness (A fancy way of saying I can lack self-control.). Part of it is also knowing diets overall are a load of crap. It’s rare people keep the weight off and often times they can be harmful.
That isn’t to say we shouldn’t watch what we eat. But I mean that in a very different way than most. By watch I really mean “be mindful” of what we eat. The reason diets don’t often work, despite the sworn testimonials of sexy people, is that each of us needs something different in terms of nutrition. Some have negative reactions to milk products or gluten. Others have no issues at all. Some need more of it.
The one and only trick is to be mindful of what we eat, how we eat, and how we feel eating and afterwards. First and foremost, food should provide our bodies with the necessary nutrients to thrive physically. Often if we have an illness or disease there is some sort of dietary component to treatment. This is as true of mental health issues as physical health issues.
When we eat what our individual body needs to thrive we feel “good.” We have increased energy, our mood is more peaceful and happier, and we feel healthier and sexier overall. When we eat things our body either doesn’t need or is actually poisoning it we feel tired, lethargic, bloated, anxious and sad, unattractive, and overall, clinically crappy.
The thing is most don’t pay attention to this. We simply shove the food in, often as quickly as we can, without fully noticing our experience with it. This has led to astronomical levels of obesity and other health issues.
But I have the secret to combat this. Mindful eating. Maybe this sounds like a hippy dippy solution to something that many have had difficulty finding a solution to but I promise it works. 100% money back guarantee.
The key here is to simply slow down your eating and use all of your senses to experience your food (and drink). This is the reason health professionals recommend many chews of your food. Really taste what you’re putting in your mouth. Smell it. Notice how it feels to chew it and swallow it. Admire the colors and shapes. Touch it. I know that goes against everything your parents taught you about not playing with your food but do it anyway.
Not only will this allow you to notice when you feel full and stop eating, which prevents overeating, but it also allows you to find out how much you really enjoy the food you’re eating and whether your body appreciates you filling yourself with it.
When I first began testing these tactics, I quickly realized I didn’t actually like the 7-layer burritos at Taco Bell I’d figured were the safest vegetarian fast food option (I know, I know they probably aren’t even vegetarian but sometimes you’ve gotta play mind games with yourself to survive out there.). They taste like cardboard. I decided, well, if I’m going to eat crap I at least want it to be delicious crap.
As I continued my own mindful eating journey and assisted others in theirs, I also began to realize something else. Even if something tasted delicious, I didn’t always want to eat it if my body felt awful afterwards. I experience this most with sugar. Some might call it a sweet tooth but I call it addiction. I can have a small amount of sweets and not have it affect me but if I do that too often or have much more than that I almost always feel terrible pretty much instantly. This also happens with most overly processed “junk” foods.
None of this should be a surprise. These types of food don’t provide us with any nutrients. Sure, they’re fun and personally I have no issues with them when enjoyed in good ol’ moderation, but our bodies are going to let us know what we don’t need inside of us whether we like it or not. And we need to listen to our bodies if we want them to last as long as they can.
I also believe there’s one thing most diets have gotten right and that’s the recommendation of eating whole and natural foods as much as possible. Those suckers have all the nutrients folks. Again, we all need different amounts of the nutrients but the mindful eating will let us know exactly what we need.
Now I’m nowhere near a perfect mindful eater. Again, the sugar addiction and if there’s a bag of chips in my vicinity it’s in trouble. But as a result of practicing mindful eating, I make more choices that support my health and wellbeing.
I’ve also become a more mindful shopper. I rarely buy things I’m going to binge on and then feel terrible about after. I keep foods that support my health easily accessible. And I ride the waves Oof cravings until they disappear. Usually the effort it would take to run to the store isn’t worth it. I’ve also found healthier replacements to curb the cravings. Like if I eat fresh grapefruit I don’t even want sugar.
I share all this because I hear a lot of diet talk. And it’s rarely positive. People are frustrated. They aren’t losing weight or keeping it off. They feel deprived. The feel unhealthy. Or many who do experience the results they want develop an unhealthy obsession. Many have an unhealthy relationship with food that I believe is a direct result of not living more mindfully. So take a moment today to really savor your food. I’ll bet you one hundred dollars not only will you become healthier as a result but eating will become even more awesome.