HOW you eat. I believe this should be the number one area of focus for individuals looking to eat well and manage their weight. And, trust me, it is definitely challenging one to tackle. Our society isn't set up for us to use mindful eating practices with ease. Majority of individuals are born with both natural cues to know when to start eating and when to stop. And we also are born without predisposition to label foods as "bad" or "good". As we move through our lives, external cues like set meal times, time constraints at meals, the media and social influences (family and friends) begin to shape our hunger/ satiety cues and relationship with food. Unless you want to live away from the modern world, many of these factors are just the new normal. What is important, is to recognize the effect our environment has on us and find the best way for you to navigate through that environment; basically make the environment work for you! Two key areas of mindfulness I want to touch upon today is the anticipation of eating and deprivation patterns.
I recently listened to a webinar from Dietitian Helene Charbonneau and she talked about how we have lost anticipation with eating. And this really spoke to me. We often graze on food while we are making dinner, eat something because it's "there", or have a meal just because its "time". These patterns make it difficult for us to really savour in the process of eating, from enjoying in preparing and eating the food, as well as finding satiety.
Deprivation rarely leads to sustaining a healthy weight, and definitely does not nurture a positive relationship with food. Between the media, health professionals and other friends, we hear a lot about what foods are "bad" or "toxic" for us. With all the labels we put on foods, it's hard to eat without feelings of guilt and negativity. I find my clients who have a long "bad" list tend towards a pattern of deprivation/ binge. In this pattern, you end up eating a food that is on your "bad" list, which makes you feel negative because you "failed" (I mean you ate something "bad" according to your list!). These negative emotions lead to more eating, and more guilt. It's not realistic to say that you will "never" eat fun foods like chocolate, chips, etc. so why set yourself for failure. Often telling yourself you "can't" have it makes you want it even more (just like a 3 year old really wants to touch the breakable thing you just told them they can't touch). Avoiding the bad and good food labelling is especially important around children; it's important for them to begin at a young age building a positive relationship with food.
So, try this year to focus on the "how's" of eating: build a positive relationship with food, listen to your appetite and learn to savour your food. If you need some help in the process of mindful eating, I like this youtube video from The Mindful Guy. One reason why I like it may be his accent.. haha.
Happy eating xo