Do you ever find yourself looking at your empty plate, trying to recall what you just ate? Or after a long and stressful day, have you found yourself elbow-deep in the tub of ice cream but not even feeling the slightest bit hungry?
There is no denying that connecting with our bodies—what, why, and when we are eating—can determine success or derailment in our fitness goals. Creating awareness when we are eating is one of the most important tools in maintaining weight loss and lasting health and wellness. Numerous studies have determined that when one practices mindful eating there is achievement of fitness goals. Every. Single. Time!
For some, the inner self-dialogue around food can be a significant area that needs to be addressed. For others, it may be the external habits and patterns developed over time. Creating mindful eating habits does not involve a diet, restriction, or extreme exercise, and it can be done anywhere at any time. It is learning to create awareness of our nutrition choices and how our bodies feel.
What is your story?
Have you considered the idea that you may have a narrative or story about yourself surrounding food and your body? Using the concept of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy—thoughts create feelings, which then lead to action or non-action—we may find it wise to examine our current food and body narrative. Our narrative may be apparent and understood, or it may be an area that requires some reflection and new understanding.
The purpose in examining our beliefs and habits around eating is to pay attention to the experience of eating, first in self-reflection around our thoughts, feelings, and stories around food. Second, how do we feel in relation to our sense of taste, smell, touch, and even sounds? We can acknowledge and engage with our food, appreciating that we receive not only nutrition, but social interactions through shared meals (and hopefully many more post-Covid!). So often a shared meal where we are truly present provides the richest treasured moments and times with family and friends. It is an appreciation for what we are eating, and with whom we gather.
The inward experience includes our expectations, beliefs, eating habits, and genetics. Getting clear on your story surrounding food and your body is the starting point for creating change. For example, have you been holding on to the limiting belief that you are “lazy”, “big boned”, or “unmotivated”? Or do “It’s my genetics.”, “I can’t stop eating.”, “I can never change.”, “It’s too hard.”, or “I never lose weight.” dominate your current body narrative? Then it is time to rewrite your story.
Write it out
Try this helpful food and body narrative exercise: List your beliefs surrounding food and your body, digging deep into your reasons and excuses that you are finally willing to let go. Next, write the story you are ready to step into. “My body supports me.”, “I am strong and healthy.”, “I am in charge of my fitness and my body.”
Once we are completely mindful of this narrative we have believed, we can then make a conscious effort to take the steps to create presence in our eating that is supportive and a positive experience.
5 Strategies for Mindful Eating
How are you feeling?
Ask yourself “Am I hungry or am I sad, mad, lonely, or bored?” Food can often be used as an emotional crutch with mindless eating, instead of dealing with unwanted feelings. Learn to recognize and connect to your hunger cues instead of eating your emotions.
Use your senses.
Connect with all your senses when you eat: taste, touch, appearance, texture, and smell. Pretend you are a food critic and see if you can pick out the various flavours and particulars of each dish.
Take your time! It takes your brain 20 minutes to register that you are full when eating. There is no first place prize for finishing your plate. Try chewing the suggested amount of 25 to 32 times; this will not only aid in digestion but will bring you to that desired time.
Be aware of when you’re eating.
Stop checking if the fridge light is on. Resist standing in front of the fridge mindlessly eating or snacking while preparing meals.
Take a moment before you eat to give thanks for your meals. Standing in gratitude for what you have been given is a way to connect with your food and body.
Moving from mindless to mindful eating empowers us with the choice of what, when, where, and why we eat. Creating awareness when we are eating is one of the most important tools in maintaining weight loss, obtaining lasting health and wellness, and enjoying our meals.
Aeryon Ashlie, rhnc is the founder of Aeryon Wellness, weight loss expert, speaker, #1 best selling author, and on-air radio personality. Aeryon’s mission is “empowering women with holistic health.” Her latest venture of support supplements are a result of 20 plus years of personal experience with hormones, weight management, and sleep issues.