I love to eat! There are very few foods that I don’t like – I love different tastes and textures; I love salty, sweet, spicy, crunchy, smooth…..you name it. I think about food a great deal.
Even though I think quite a bit about food and eating, I realize that often I am mindless when it comes to eating. Mindless in the sense that I sometimes eat food because it’s there, not because I’m hungry. Mindless in that I stop paying attention to how much I eat, what I eat, and at what time of day I’m eating it. To combat my mindlessness, I have developed a few strategies…….
· I rarely eat right out of a bag when eating foods like potato chips or crackers now. I pour a serving of chips into a bowl, close the bag AND put it away (out of sight, out of mind), and then eat the allotted chips. I do this with snack foods, M&M’s, granola, nuts, anything that I used to mindlessly eat by the handfuls. Now, I eat a predetermined amount and call it quits before I devour the entire bag.
· Most days, I pack a lunch and snacks for myself to take to work. This way I avoid the expense of eating take out or fast food. It also allows me to eat several times throughout the workday instead of just one meal. It also forces me to think and plan for what I need to eat which ultimately turns into healthier food choices.
· Instead of mindlessly filling up my plate with those beloved white carbs (bread, rice, pasta, potatoes), I now mindfully choose more fruits, vegetables, and protein….same volume of food but better nutritionally.
· I have to mindfully battle the compulsion to finish everything on my plate as well as everybody else’s plates since I hate to see food go to waste. Those who know me well know that once I’m done eating, I often move on to eat off of my husband’s, kids’, or friends’ (OK, mainly just Tracey’s) plates as well:
o Now, I rarely play the role of garbage disposal after my kids finish eating…..if one of the kids left a ½ a sandwich on their plate, I would eat it….AFTER I had already finished my meal. If one of them would lose interest in a ½ eaten candy bar, I would finish it. Some of the things I would eat I didn’t even like....you might not be able to relate to this if you’ve never eaten cotton candy flavored yogurt out of a plastic tube. Now, I avoid finishing those left over “morsels”.
o I have accepted that, even though there are people starving in other parts of the world (e.g. Africa), finishing every bit of food on my dinner table will not decrease their suffering….
o I put less food on my kids’ plates so there is less left over (yes, it took me 7 years of mommyhood to figure that one out!).
o Rather than eat the left-over food myself (e.g. that ½ sandwich), I place it in the fridge for the child to eat at a later time (also took 7 years).
o Mom – don’t read this one - I (sometimes) throw out left-over food that I really don’t like, but was just eating so it didn’t go to waste….in other words, I now throw it out so it doesn’t go to waist!
Mindful eating is much harder than mindless eating. Over time, however, it has been well worth the effort toward better eating.
Walking the (active) Talk: I rode in a 25 mile Breast Cancer Awareness ride this past weekend…. it was the first time I had ever done a ride like that and it was great! The weather was perfect and I even had time fit in a 3 mile run before the cycling started. I planned ahead to meet up with a friend and we did the ride together…..exercise, conversation, charity, fresh air, sunshine – beats sitting on the couch any day!