In the first 2 posts of my mindful eating series, we talked about what mindfulness and mindful eating mean, acknowledging food responses, focusing on hunger cues, and how this helps prevent overeating.
We know that mindful eating is much more than having “no distractions” and “eating when you’re hungry”.
We have to learn about our bodies. Practice. Keep practicing. Find things other than food to help you cope with stress and other negative emotions. Honor your body and your likes and dislikes.
If you didn’t already, click the links below to read the first 2 parts of this series:
The Final Mindful Eating Principles
Do you tend to make decisions about food based on what is “supposed to” be “healthy”? I bet you don’t really LIKE kale. And I bet you WISH you hated fries or liked Greek yogurt.
What if I told you that part of being a mindful eater is only eating foods that you ENJOY? Would that sell you on it? Because it sold me.
What if I told you that YOU know better than society was is healthy for YOUR body? I know you probably don’t believe me. But we are born with an innate sense of what we need. Ever wonder why your toddler wants only chicken nuggets at one meal and then will completely avoid them for the fruit at the next? It’s because they likely already met their protein needs and now only need the sugar. We are born with this ability. But society knocks it right out of us.
Mindful eating helps us get back to this AND to enjoying food again with these last 2 principles:
- Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.
- Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor and taste.
Respecting Your Inner Wisdom
After society beats our inner wisdom out of us, it can be hard to get back. But you can do it. It just takes some practice.
It starts by focusing on the positive of every single thing you put in your mouth. Is it chocolate? Well, that’s delicious and rich and mood-boosting. Is it a salad? Greens are full of fiber, water, and micro-nutrients for heart health, hydration, and optimal use of energy.
Even if it feels weird to be giving yourself praise for everything you eat, this is where it starts.
You also need to start being honest with yourself. Do you really like the “superfood salad” Pinterest swore to you was healthy? Or are you just trying to convince yourself that you do? If you don’t like it, don’t eat it! Instead, I challenge you to ask yourself- WHY am I forcing myself to eat this? Is there a benefit that I’m looking for that I can get from another food that I DO enjoy? The chances are good that there is another way to get it!
The last part of respecting your inner wisdom is to not avoid your cravings. Whatever they may be, give yourself permission to eat. Don’t beat yourself up for it. Slow down, enjoy the food you were craving by savoring it, and then move on. You’ll learn a lot about yourself in doing this including what your body really needs and when, AND that you actually CAN stop once you start; a “cheat” meal doesn’t have to turn into an entire week of being off track.
Mindfulness & Food Preparation
Preparing your food can be mindful too. In our busy and chaotic lives, we tend to view this a time-sucking chore that we dread doing. Who wants to come home after a long day away from the kids and spend an hour in the kitchen? I get it.
But you can make this less of a core by focusing on the positive in the food prep the same way you do when eating the food.
Food prep provides us with nourishing meals for ourselves and our families. Preparing ahead of time takes some stress out of our day. And if you involve the family and make it fun, or play music and have a glass of wine while cooking and chatting with your hubby or partner, you can make cooking more of an experience than a chore.