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Mindful Eating: A Pocket Planner

Much is being written on eating mindfully and, for sure, it is a path that brings healthy results that are sustainable and lifetime oriented. It might be helpful to have a one-page guide…a pocket resource that summarizes the principles of mindful eating. A quick glance can remind you of ‘what to do next’.

Overall, mindful eating is a slower and more aware way of eating. It is based on mindfulness: being fully aware of what is happening within and without, non-judgmentally, in the present moment. Research is proving that mindful eating plays a large role in improving weight issues and guiding people toward making more healthful food choices.

Eating mindfully includes noticing, with focused awareness, the colors, smells, flavors and textures of food. When we eat mindfully, we might even notice the sound of a food. You might also think about where the food comes from and who is involved in bringing the food to grocery stores or farmer’s markets. It is important to eat slowly and with full presence, chewing each bite thoroughly and putting your fork or spoon down between bites. Gratitude makes everything taste better.

Mindful eating also includes eating without distraction, so: no food in the car, no eating standing up and please turn off TV and put down reading material to more fully focus on the food at hand. Enjoy – savor – digest well.

Mindful eating aids in distinguishing true hunger from wanting something to eat to distract or soothe. You will be able, with practice, to know if you’re sad or bored, frustrated or disappointed, and sense, in the moment, that you have a choice between the urge to eat something and actually eating. Mindfulness invites you to ask yourself, “Am I really hungry right now?” Perhaps it is time to read a book or talk a walk…call a friend or simply put your feet up and relax.

By slowing down your meals, mindfulness gives you the opportunity to recognize that you are full before you have eaten too much. About 15 – 20 minutes after you start to eat, your body begins to send signals to your brain that you’re full  – no matter how large the meal. So if one isn’t mindful, it is easy to consume a 3,000 calorie meal in 15 – 20 minutes. Deliberately making a meal go slowly, and being willing to quit when you feel full and saving the rest is a powerful aid to weight loss and healthy eating in general.

The following acronym should come in handy, cut this out and keep it in your wallet as a handy reference:

E:  Emotions: are you really hungry or do you need to deal with a feeling?
A:  Awareness: what is going on “inside” and “outside”; check in…be aware.
T:  Take your time: chew each bite and savor; slow eating wins.
I:  Intention: remember, lifetime health and well-being is your goal.
N:  Notice: 15 minutes into the meal, how full are you? Save what’s left for tomorrow.
G:  Gratitude: be grateful for the blessing of food, where it came from and who to thank.

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