Mindful Eating Begins with a Plan

May 22, 2019
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If you have ever finished a meal wondering where all your food disappeared to so quickly, mindful eating can help. Mindful eating can help us be more in tune with our hunger signals and respond before we have that I-can’t-believe-I-ate-the-whole-thing feeling. The payoff is immediate: better digestion, more satisfaction and enjoyment out of our meals, and as we become better at it, natural portion control without feeling deprived.By eating small, moderate meals throughout the day and obeying our body’s signs of fullness, we reap the rewards of better digestion, more satisfaction and enjoyment out of our meals, and natural portion control without deprivation.

But the real meat and potatoes of mindful eating is more difficult: actually putting down the meat and potatoes and backing away from the table. Food is delicious, and for many of us, the concept of simply putting down the fork and being okay with it is easier said than done. If your appetite overrides your brain at the table, try some of these tips.Begin with the end in mind, and anticipate how you will feel emotionally when you realize you are full physically. Pay attention the next time you realize you are full mid-way through a meal, and name that emotion: are you content? Disappointed? Ambivalent? Resentful that you prepared a meal for which you are no longer hungry? Being prepared to feel this way can ease the discomfort. Then, create a response for that feeling. Imagine saying, “I thought I might encounter this; time to move on and come back when I am hungry again.” If that sounds ridiculous, think of what would sound better to you.

This calm acknowledgement reassures your brain that it’s not in an emergency, and that the food is not going away. It’s just on pause. In a society where we can drive to a grocery store at 2:00 am and buy just about anything we want, eating is not a limited time offer. If you have worked with your Health Advisor to identify your calorie needs for weight loss, then mindful eating becomes a strategy to stay within your boundaries and protect yourself from the health risks of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and uncomfortable jeans.So now we get to the big question: what to do instead of eat? Be prepared ahead of time with something to do when you realize you are full. Sort through the mail, fold laundry, give the kids a bath, write a thank-you note, just get out of the environment and occupy your mind. When that plate is still tormenting you and you can’t stop thinking about it, throw it out. In your neighbor’s garbage can. If you’re really stuck, send a message to your Health Advisor. We will get through it together!

Eating feels good, but balanced living feels better. Be there for yourself now; the food will be there later.

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