Mindful Eating

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You are in a big hurry.  You can’t be late and you haven’t eaten breakfast yet.  So as you fly out of the house, you grab something or anything and start eating as you are walking to your car or to the public transport that you use.  And you are eating it quickly and taking big bites.  Perhaps you are on the cordless phone in an important conversation and you know that you have to leave for a shiur in 5 minutes but you haven’t eaten supper. So while you are getting ready and talking on the phone, you grab at whatever is in the refrigerator and then as you run out you open the pantry door and take the first ready-to-eat anything that you see.  These are examples of mindless eating—and it is a great way to gain weight and have indigestion.   When we formulate a food plan, we focus on our food intake; how many carbs, proteins, fruits, vegetables and fats should we be eating a day and we want to know what a true portion size is.  But learning how to eat mindfully and enjoying and savoring each bite of your food is just as important.

When you are eating, you should only be eating.  You should not be reading, talking on the phone and working at your computer while you are eating.  All of this leads to overeating.  Concentrate on what you are eating and the taste of your food and most of all, chew your food thoroughly as this is a very important part of the digestion process.  BE MINDFUL IN YOUR EATING!  Mindful eating includes:

  • Ask yourself if you really want to be eating now.
  • Don’t wait until you’re famished. .
  • Get up and leave the table. (It can take your brain 20 minutes to process that you are full, so when you finish your portions, get up and leave the table until it kicks in that you are full).
  • Choose food that will satisfy both your body and your mind. (Satisfaction comes not just from fullness but from enjoying the taste of your food–without guilt. Feeling guilty about eating certain foods actually causes more overeating, not less).
  • Set the table nicely.
  • Eat without distractions.
  • Eat when you’re sitting down.
  • Take a few breaths and center yourself before you begin eating. (This will help you slow down and give eating your full attention).
  • Appreciate the aroma and the appearance of your food. (Notice the colors, textures, and smells of the food and imagine what it will taste like).
  • Decide which food looks the most appetizing and start eating that food first. (If you save the best until last, you may want to eat it even if you are full).
  • Savor the aromas and tastes of your food as you eat it
  • If you notice that you’re not enjoying what you chose, choose something else if possible. (Eating food you don’t enjoy will leave you feeling dissatisfied).
  • Pause in the middle of eating-put your fork down.
  • Push your plate forward or get up from the table as soon as you feel satisfied.
  • Notice how you feel when you’re finished eating. (If you overate, don’t punish yourself. Instead, be aware of the physical and/or emotional discomfort that often accompanies being overly full and create a plan to decrease the likelihood that you’ll overeat next time)

Another thing that always applies to everyone is to stay hydrated.  Start your day with 2 glasses of water and drink a glass or two before each meal and snack.  You should accumulate at least 10 cups of water throughout the day and if you are exercising, you will need more.  Also, in the summer months, it is always a good idea for more.  Remember that water is the best choice, but herbal teas and seltzer water is also good.  Juices are generally high in calories.

Implement the 9 rule.  That rule is that every day; make sure to have at least 6 servings of vegetables (variety is important) and 3 servings of fruits. These are part of the staples of disease prevention and no matter what type of dietary plan you are on, this should be a staple.

Keep in mind that we use most of our calories in the first two thirds of the day.  So we want to consume more of our calories earlier.  No matter what else you are doing, if you make a curfew for yourself, something around 8 or 8:30 PM and you only have liquids after that, you will notice that you will most likely drop weight and you will sleep better also.  Many years ago a study created two groups of people who ate identical calories each day.  Group 1 ate their calories between 1:00 and 3:00 PM each day and the group 2 ate their calories between 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM.  Group one lost weight and group 2 gained weight.  In the evening and night we are mostly inactive and then sleeping so our metabolism is at its slowest and that means much less calorie burn.

One of the things I tell me overweight clients who are trying to lose weight is that with a good nutritious food plan and mindful eating they will learn to enjoy food and more—not less! Hashem gave us a variety of colors and tastes in our food to enjoy them.  Mindful eating will show you that food actually has a wonderful taste.

Eating mindfully is another way to “add hours to your day, days to your year, and years to your life.”

Alan Freishtat is an A.C.E. CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER and a LIFESTYLE FITNESS COACH with over 18 years of professional experience. He is the co-director of the Jerusalem-based weight loss and stress reduction center Lose It! along with Linda Holtz M.Sc. and is available for private consultations, assessments and personalized workout programs. Alan also lectures and gives seminars and workshops. He can be reached at 02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at alan@loseit.co.il Check out the Lose It!web site – www.loseit.co.il    US Line: 516-568-5027