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6 Steps to a Mindful Meal

We live in a fast-paced world filled with long days, multitasking and not enough sleep. Time starved, we often eat lunch at our desks, run through a drive-thru or skip meals entirely. Whether it’s the phone, TV or computer, many of us spend our dinners glued to a screen. These patterns of mindless eating behaviors often lead to overeating....polishing off the whole pint of ice cream, bag of chips, or bottle of wine. Soon those skinny jeans are just a little too skinny and that cute new jacket a little too snug. But more importantly, mindless eating contributes to poor food choices that can affect our mental clarity, stamina and cause illness. Use this simple six-step mindful eating practice that will allow you to listen to your body’s natural hunger cues, so you can put a stop to overeating and bingeing on unhealthy foods.

 

1.Unplug

 

Step away from your cell phone, turn off the TV, and close your laptop. Remove all distractions before enjoying your mindful meal. You can even practice this with your family by having a turn off and unplug policy at the dinner table!

 

2.Slow down

 

Give your body and mind the gift of time and attention by slowing down! This may come as a surprise to you, but you may find yourself enjoying your food more. Pay attention to your hunger cues. Your stomach will know it’s full long before your brain does. Take time to savor and enjoy your meal, so you can feel your body and hear its messages.

 

3.Chew

 

Did you know that chewing is an important part of digestion? Enzymes in our mouths begin digesting our food before it even enters our stomachs. In our multitasking, chaotic life, we are often rushing through meals, which usually leads to inhaling and gulping. Chew every bite.

 

4.Savor every bite

 

You know when you take a bite of your favorite chocolate cake, and you can’t help but close your eyes as a big ol’ grin spreads from one ear to the next? And you can’t help but take your time and truly enjoy every last bite. That is what it means to intentionally savor your food. Use mealtime as a chance to savor your food. As you slowly chew without distractions, you’ll find yourself tuning into the eating experience by noticing the appearance of your food, its flavors, textures, and temperature. This will add to the pleasure of eating just what your body needs.

 

5.Listen to your body

 

Ditch the clean-plate mentality. Learn to listen to your body and feel its hunger cues instead. Stop eating when you feel full even if there’s food left on your plate. Simply save the rest for later! Eating slowly and savoring your food will give your body time to tell you when you’re full.

 

6.Make it a date

 

You may be thinking that you’re too busy to slow down, but you’re not. Use these tips to slowly introduce yourself to mindful eating. The more you practice, the more natural it will feel, and soon you’ll replace your unhealthy eating behaviors with mindful ones. Start by planning your mindful meals. Set a date and time in your schedule at least once per week. Think of your mindful meal as a pampering session for yourself.

 

So mark your calendar, and set aside a window for a mindful meal to yourself! Unplug, slow down, chew your food, savor every bite, and listen to your body.

 

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