Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve eaten too much recently. Now is the perfect opportunity to try again, equipped with a new useful tool. Practicing mindful eating can help you avoid the typical holiday weight gain (and the guilt that often follows), but to do it well it does take “training,” just as with anything else.
We wouldn’t dream about running a marathon without proper training or performing in a play without rehearsing, yet we expect that we could just start to eat mindfully at any time. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way, so I have developed a 10-day “training plan” to eat mindfully. Start with Day 1, and each day add a new habit to your eating routine. By the end of the 10 days, you’ll have incorporated 10 new habits and be on your way to eating mindfully!
I will do my best to start each meal with some deep breaths and a pause to become fully present. I will pay attention to the colors and smells of my food and think about how it made it to my plate.
Before taking the first bite, I will take a moment to think about how grateful I am to have this delicious food available for me.
I will chew my food slowly, concentrating on taste and texture. I will pay attention to the crunchiness, creaminess, and flavor of what I am eating.
I will put my fork down between bites and take 1 to 3 deep breaths before picking it up again.
I will eat my food sitting down at a table. Not in the car. Not in front of the TV. Not standing by the fridge.
I will pause periodically to check in with my belly. Am I full? Am I thirsty? Is this food satisfying me?
I will try to notice when I am about 80% full rather than 100% full and stop eating at that point. I will trust, from experience, that with the food I have eaten so far, I will be full shortly and if I continue, I’ll move from satisfied to stuffed.
Before grabbing a snack to eat, I will ask myself, Am I really hungry for food? or Am I hungry for something else? And Is this the best quality of food available to me?
I will appreciate the people with whom I am eating and try hard to be present and truly listen to what they are saying rather than just planning my response. If I am eating alone, I’ll notice my thoughts and let them flow without judgment or necessarily action.
I will pay attention to the food I have eaten and notice how it affected my mood and my energy. If I don’t like the way I feel, I will not berate myself with negative self-talk, but will rather note the feeling and remind myself before eating that food again in the future. If I feel good, I will note that, too, and be grateful for that experience.
Lisa Lewtan is leading a workshop at SHE DID IT/Boston on March 24, 2014 at Babson College. For more information on SHE DID IT/Boston, click here.