Can you indulge a little at Easter? What can you do to make sure that your inner Easter-egg-aholic doesn’t start a sugar-laden rampage through your long weekend? Read on to learn more about mindful eating…
It is no secret that we are big advocates of healthy eating, and making nourishing choices about food that works for you as an individual. We are also big advocates of mindfulness and the wonderful difference it can make to your life. (I have written about this before – check out this blog post from last year.)
But sometimes it’s difficult to make the choice that you know is the best one for your health and wellness. This can be particularly tricky at times such as Easter, Christmas, or other celebrations that are laden not only with food but are also heavy with tradition and emotion. Of course you want to join in! It’s only natural. And you don’t want to be so focused on what you eat all the time that it becomes hard work and is all that you think about.
So what do you do in these situations? How can you reconcile this with your desire to look after yourself? What do you do when someone makes something for you with love that it would be rude not to accept graciously and enjoy?
Well, we say go for it, but eat it mindfully so that you don’t overdo it. If you are going to eat something you wouldn’t ordinarily eat, then savour it, really enjoy it, and don’t give yourself a hard time about it afterwards. Here are some tips to make sure this happens:
- Look at what you are eating – take it all in. The textures, the colours, the glaze (yes – I’m looking at you, hot cross bun).
- Smell it. Let it fill your nostrils and engage your brain. Take in that heady scent of cinnamon and spices (yep – hot cross bun again).
- Eat it S L O W L Y. Really chew each mouthful slowly and for a long time. This helps your digestion and also allows your brain to register that you are eating. If you wolf food down quickly this messes up both of these processes and you can end up overeating.
Some other tips for mindful eating:
- Eat at the table.
- Set a place at the table using your things that you enjoy. Go on – get the “good” plates and some napkins out. Make it nice and enjoy the experience more, even if you are eating alone.
- Limit distractions. Turn the TV off. Leave your phone in the kitchen.
What does the research say about mindfulness and mindful eating? A recent study (Jordan, Wang, Donatoni & Meier, 2014) found that mindfulness was related to healthier food intake, and reduced calorie consumption. Mindfulness is the art of being present in the moment, without judgment, and can be developed with practice such as mindfulness meditation, or other mindful practices such as mindful eating.
In a 2012 study, Timmerman and Brown implemented a 6-week mindfulness program with middle-aged women, specifically focused on mindful eating in restaurants. They found that over the course of the program participants reduced their daily energy and fat intake and also prevented weight gain. South Australian researchers Beshara, Hutchinson and Wilson (2013) have found that improving the ability to engage in mindful eating may also help people to moderate serving size.
So there are lots of good reasons to engage in mindful eating and other mindfulness practices. Have a very happy long weekend, enjoy Easter if you celebrate it, and don’t add guilt to your plate if you decide to indulge a little.
Beshara M, Hutchinson AD & Wilson C 2013, Does mindfulness matter? Everyday mindfulness, mindful eating and self-reported serving size of energy dense foods among a sample of South Australian adults, Appetite, vol. 67, pp. 25-29.
Jordan CH, Wang W, Donatoni L & Meier BP 2014, Mindful eating: Trait and state mindfulness predict healthier eating behavior, Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 68, pp.107-111.
Timmerman GM & Brown A 2012, The effect of a ‘Mindful Restaurant Eating’ intervention on weight management in women, Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour, vol. 44, No. 1, pp. 22-28.