Last week we began the journey of discovering what it means to eat mindfully.
We began by asking ourselves why we eat. Reflect on the reasons why you eat. Ideally, we should only eat when we’re truly hungry. Food is designed to fuel our body. Sure, it should taste good and you absolutely should enjoy it, but eating shouldn’t be a past time or a coping mechanism.
In our society, it’s really easy to eat just “because.” We can get food “on demand” anywhere. Everything is at our fingertips: drive-thru, delivery, and vending machines. Don’t forget about those tantalizing goodies conveniently placed in the check out line. “Out of site out of mind”makes it much easier to listen to true hunger cues but unfortunately, unless you spend most of your time at home and avoid T.V., it’s impossible to not be bombarded by food or images of food.
Do you find yourself influenced by food placement/images? I don’t know about you, but every time I look at my Facebook feed or check Instagram, pictures of food bombard me. Some inspire me to eat well (green smoothies, extravagant salads, juicy grilled salmon with roasted veggies) while images of freshly baked chocolate chips cookies or a rich chocolate cake definitely get my mind thinking about other sweet treats.
Regardless of hunger level, both images influence my desire to eat.
- Can you relate?
- Think about your typical day.
- When to you want to eat?
- When do you think about eating?
- When do you succumb to those thoughts or hunger pangs and actually eat?
- Do you feel like you are in control of your food choices or are you controlled by food?
Pritkin Longevity Center recommends using a Hunger Scale to help individuals get back in touch with their own hunger cues.
- The scale they use ranges from 1:Starving/Ravenous to 10: Thanksgiving Full (food coma).
- They recommend eating when your hunger level reaches a 3:Very Hungry/ Ready to eat now.
Eating when you’re ready but not waiting until you’re ravenous enables you to maintain control. At this point, you’re not so hungry that you have to scarf down your food to satisfy the gnawing in your stomaching, but instead you’re able eat slowly and enjoy the flavors and textures of the food. It takes your brain about 20 minutes to recognize that you’re satisfied. Eating slowly allows your brain to catch up with your stomach!
Pritikin recommends stopping when you reach a 6: You could eat more, but if you did, you’d lose that lovely feeling of lightness and likely end up bloated, your pants too tight.
Using this scale, if you get up from the table when you’re close to full, 20 minutes later you will feel full, but not overly so.
If you stop eating when you’re a little too full, you’ll likely be uncomfortably full 20 minutes later when your brain acknowledges that your body has been satisfied.
Again, it’s much easier to stop eating when you’re satisfied if you initially listen to your body and eat when you start to feel hungry.
I tell my clients to “eat like a kid.” What do kids do? They eat when their hungry and stop when their satisfied. It’s just that simple. They don’t hold off until their uncomfortably hungry because they are trying to complete an assignment or because it’s not quite “lunch time.” They eat when their body says it needs food!
Sure, we live in a world where meetings are often held over meals and deadlines do have to be met. However, we can reach for a small protein-rich snack to hold us over until the main meal instead of letting our blood sugar crash and send us on a downward spiral of poor food choices.
This week, I encourage you to keep a journal.
- Take note of each time you think about food.
- What sparked that thought?
- Was it a conversation, a commercial, or true hunger?
- Did it influence what you craved or what you ultimately chose?
- The first step in taking control of your food choices is becoming aware of what causes specific desires.
- This might seem like a tedious task but if you don’t feel like you have control of your choices, something has to change.
- Let that change occur now!
- Journaling for just one day can be very enlightening.
- I challenge you to try anywhere from 3 days to 1 full week!
When do you want to eat? I’m curious to know what you discover about yourself.