The time of year is upon us when parties and potlucks are at an all-time high. I find myself going from one event to the next praying that I can make it through the event without overindulging. Have you ever started eating something and then realized it was all gone and you don’t remember eating more than a couple of bites? Many people operate on auto-pilot when they eat. Mindless, or distracted, eating is a common problem that a lot of people face.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember to be mindful when we eat. Being mindful will give us a better awareness of our thoughts, feelings and actions when it comes to eating. I’ve noticed that when I’m mindful I’m more aware of my internal and external cues that control my eating decisions. Sometimes my cues are physical like my stomach rumbling or feeling lightheaded/dizzy. Other times I am an emotional eater like when I’ve had a stressful or difficult day, I find chocolate. Today it was super cold outside so rather then my cold sandwich for lunch, I needed a hot bowl of soup. When it comes to holiday parties there are certain smells that I can’t resist.
The Center for Mindful Eating have several different principles when it comes to mindful eating. There are two that are very important to remember during the holidays.
- Using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.
- Becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating.
When it comes to holiday parties it can be very easy to get distracted and fall into the mindless eating trap. The American Heart Association shares some great tips to practice mindful eating.
- Control portions
- Eat when you’re hungry
- Slow down
- Pay attention
- Use technology
- Keep a food diary
You can read more about each tip from their article. One thing I have found to be most helpful is using technology to keep a food diary. There are many apps that you can download to keep track of your calorie intake. I will question a food item more if I know I’m being held accountable. If you decide you would rather write down your food diary, you are able to make comments about how you were feeling when you eat certain foods. At the end of the American Heart Association’s article there is a link to their food diary, which allows you to record food, calories and notes.
Interested in becoming more mindful when you eat? I encourage you to read Dr. Carolyn Dunn’s article Mindful Versus Mindless Eating. In the last paragraph she walks you through an exercise of being mindful while eating a raisin. She has you really become aware of all your senses. Give it a try and see how it works out for you.