What is Mindful Eating?
In its simplest terms, "mindful eating is to eat with attention and intention" (as quoted by Lauren Shelor, RD, LDN, CIEC, Health Educator for Hokie Wellness). The practice of mindful eating is intended to help us to reconnect with the food we are eating - and enjoy it more fully from start to finish. Before eating, it involves slowing down to think through the questions, "why am I eating this particular food?" or "what is behind my specific craving in this moment?" Often we eat for many other reasons outside of hunger or nourishment, yet we've lost connection with our true hunger and fullness cues. Before eating ask yourself, "how hungry am I right now?" or "Am I truly hungry, or wanting to eat out of stress, boredom, anxiety, etc?"
During a meal, mindful eating involves eating in a low-stress, peaceful environment, giving your food the full attention it deserves. It involves chewing slowly and savoring each bite as you take note of the many details we often overlook: how it tastes, the texture, how it smells and how it makes you feel. It involves putting down your fork between bites and the occasional check in of "how satisfied am I in this moment?"
Mindful Eating Quick Tips
1. Use a smaller plate and pace yourself:
Start by aiming to use a smaller plate is an easy tool for portion control. With that, keep the MyPlate Model in mind: ½ plate fruits & veggies, ¼ plate starch and ¼ plate lean protein. After sitting down at a table (key point) without distraction, take a few deep breaths to elicit a more relaxed eating state and then aim to eat slowly. Taking time to savor each bite and chew more thoroughly actually enhances our digestion, giving our body the opportunity to produce necessary digestive enzymes. Remind yourself it's not a race! If eating with a group, aim to pace yourself with the person at the table eating slowest.
2. Create a peaceful eating environment free of distraction:
Part of eating mindfully is to be present, not only concerning the food you are eating but concerning the conversations and people around you. Allow meal times to be an intentional break in your day to sit back, reflect and relax. Step away from your computer and cell phone, put on some peaceful music if desired. If eating with a friend or with family, take advantage of the opportunity to savor the moment together: talk about what aspects of the meal you are enjoying, where the foods on your plate came from or how it was prepared. This is yet another way to connect more fully with your foods and family :)
3. Pay attention to the flavor!
As a practicing dietitian, I've noticed that the majority of clients are overly focused on the nutritional quality of the foods they consume but have lost track of the other major reason why we eat: for pleasure! One way to reconnect with this aspect of eating is to take particular note of the flavors of your meal. What aspects of the dish are contributing to that flavor? Take note of the synergy of ingredients and how they work together to create a fantastic flavor sensation in your mouth.
A Recipe for Mindful Eating
Recipe shared from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and endurance athlete residing in southwest Virginia alongside her husband and dog. Through this blog she aims to share favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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