The Zen of Mindful Eating

How many times have you wolfed down a meal so quickly your body barely registers that you even ate? And then you kept on eating…. I have watched my kids inhale and it makes me stressed out just watching them eat! This is an unfortunate consequence of our fast-paced society, but you dont have to be a Zen master to learn the art of eating consciously, which carries the happy side effect of losing weight. One mindful practice that can help you get a handle on emotional eating is to ask yourself what youre really hungry for in the moment you are blindly grabbing for something salty or sweet. Are you bored? Lonely? Feeling overwhelmed? At this point is it just a habit? This takes practice and by shedding light on the real reason youre snacking, you can begin to unravel the underlying cause of your hunger and take steps to find true fulfillment that is outside of the food on your plate (or in your hand). When we eat or drink because of any of the above reasons many times we are filling an emotional void where something as simple as a hug, an intimate conversation, checking in and getting validation from your girlfriends will fill the true need of emotional connection. Another side effect of the abundance of food at our disposal is that were grazing all day long and have lost touch with our bodys innate signals of hunger. This is extremely prevalent in people that are dehydrated as well. Dehydration presents itself many times with what you would consider to be hunger pangs. In addition, studies show when our mind is tuned out during mealtime, the digestive process may be 30% to 40% less effective. This can contribute to digestive distress, such as gas, bloating and bowel irregularities. To become more mindful, make mealtimes a time to feel nourished by: Preparing more food at home. Food that youve lovingly prepared tastes much better for the effort. If cooking is foreign to you, take baby steps. Find a few easy, healthy recipes and make them on the weekend before you venture into weekday cooking. Before long, itll become habit! Take 3 long deep breathes before you eat (and sit up straight when eating). This signals your body to slow down. When you are racing to eat you are triggering your body’s flight or fight response which dumps cortisol in your blood stream. When you sit with good posture you give your digestive system the room it needs to work and you give your lungs the room they need to breathe. Giving thanks before you eat . Taking time to express gratitude, whether silently or aloud, at the start of each meal forces you to slow down. It also helps calm you down, which leads to more efficient digestion. Food is nourishment, not an afterthought in your day. It is what keeps you alive and healthy (after breathing and water, of course). Ditching the multitasking! Put the iPhone, magazine, or computer away at mealtime. Eat at the table, not in front of the TV, and focus on your dining companions and whats on your plate. Chewing your food. Inhaling your food prevents you from benefiting from the first stage of digestion, which starts in the mouth with chewing and the creation of saliva. When you thoroughly chew your morsels (were talking at least 30 times for each bite, more if youre eating meat), your body thanks you by giving you more energy that would normally be used up digesting the partially chewed food. Making the meal last. Eat for at least 20 minutes, longer if possible, and remember to breathe between bites. I know this may be a struggle for you, it is for me especially when I eat alone. Making your meal an experience. Savor flavors, hone your senses, and pay attention to the mouth-feel and aromas of the food you eat. As you place your attention here, youll find your taste buds open up to respond and everything tastes a little bit brighter. An added bonus here is that you will soon be able to taste what is truly nourishing to you when you dine out. ‘When walking, walk, when eating, eat.’ – Zen Proverb This is the best time to get in touch with the people you care about the most. In my family, we spend quality and quantity time around the table. This enables us to have a close relationship with each other and to really know what is going on with our kids. We have all our meals together except week day lunches. I attribute this habit to being the root of my close knit family. Taking these steps will help you to feel more connected to the food that sustains you. Better yet, youll begin to drop pounds and enjoy eating again! Its one of the best-kept weight-loss secrets. If you would like to have a quick Strategy Session, head over the ‘Work with Me’ page and sing up for a quick consult. You will leave with 3 actionable steps to help you improve your relationship with food. Author’s Bio: Cheryl helps women free themselves from hormonal symptoms so they can have confidence in the way they look and feel without boot camp workouts and deprivation diets. Download a free copy of her guide, ‘8 Roots to Cultivate Lifelong Well-being and Get Your Euphoria Back!’ at ( function() { if (window.CHITIKA === undefined) { window.CHITIKA = { ‘units’ : [] }, }, var unit = {‘calltype’:’async[2]’,’publisher’:’selfgrowth’,’width’:300,’height’:250,’sid’:’Chitika Default’}, var placement_id = window.CHITIKA.units.length, window.CHITIKA.units.push(unit), }()),

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