Mindfulness is everywhere these days; there are workshops, and lunch and learns, and webinars, and online courses. It also seems that everyone has a different take on mindfulness. From "Take 5" to "3 minutes of breathing", there seem to be different but similar techniques out there to help us practice mindfulness. So what is mindfulness and how does it affect your eating habits?
Mindfulness simply means paying attention. By paying attention to what is going on within us and around us, we become aware of ourselves, our habits, and our behaviours. Bringing awareness to our lives can help to identify feelings of happiness or sadness, stress or relief, hunger or satiety and many other physical and mental feelings that we have every moment of every day. This is a particularly helpful practice – a habit interrupter – in the cycle of mindless eating, and is even more relevant during the holidays.
It’s December 2nd, the countdown is on to Christmas and Hanukkah, and ‘tis the season for work parties, festivities, treats, chocolates, drinks and excessive food consumption. There was even an article a couple months ago about how the beginning of October is the least you will weigh all year, written with the assumption that people are ready to pack in the food and pack on the pounds for holidays in preparation for the New Year and the Resolutions and the diets and the cleanses and the detoxes. But you should know that it doesn’t have to be like that. The holidays can be a time of indulgence without the guilt: mindful indulgence.
Mindful eating means taking a split second to think before you eat that extra bite of whatever delicious thing you have in front of you. It means asking yourself: Am I hungry? If you can answer this one simple question, you have interrupted your habit and have succeeded in being mindful, so that when you do take a bite of cake or chocolate, it is a Mindful Mouthful.
Taking a Mindful Mouthful means that you decide that you are indeed hungry, and that it’s not thirst, or boredom, or habit, or stress, or even the availability of delicious goodies that is driving you to eat. You take that split second to realize that you want to eat and that the item in your hand IS indeed WHAT you want to eat. This small practice will have BIG rewards throughout the holidays and beyond as you enjoy what you eat when you eat it.
Check in later this week for some Mindful Mouthful tips for navigating holiday parties, and a great recipe for a nutritious treat to bring to holiday gatherings.
So remember, take 5 seconds to ask yourself if you are hungry and then enjoy your Mindful Mouthful and have a great week!