Have you tried eating mindfully yet?
The ‘net is buzzing with information about Mindful Eating, Emotional Eating, and Ditching the Diet. All for good reason! Women like us, in our midlife. have been raised on restriction, perfection and yo-yo-ing through one way of eating after another for a lot of out lives.
Women who are 50 + are looking for more harmony with food, a way to feel good about THEMSELVES & their ever-changing menopausal bodies, while still keeping health and longevity in mind.
Mindful Eating, Meet MID-LIFE.
If you are interested in adopting a mindful eating practice, here is how you start.
PAUSE. To sit at the table, and take a moment to pause, when I just got home from work, I am OVER HUNGRY, there’s laundry, or homework to help with, seemed ridiculous. Pause?
Are you kidding me?
Then, I tried it.
Mindful Eating is about becoming aware and in tune with where you are at in a given moment. Stopping for a sec gave me a moment to check in with myself and see if I was stressed, tired or even really hungry.
Take a deep breath. Take as many as you need.
Give your thanks for the food in front of you. Whatever your beliefs, giving thanks for where you are, to the people whose hands have cultivated your food, for another day God (or your higher belief), has brought you, is a simple yet powerful way to connect with your meal, yourself and your life. Gratitude is proven to increase happiness. Plus, it gives you a moment to centre yourself before you hit your dinner plate running!
I also ask myself:
How HUNGRY am I?
What do I smell?
HOW DO I FEEL?
Am I stressed right now?
Am I able to slow down?
EAT SLOW. When you try this for the first time, you may be amazed at how uncomfortable it is. We run and gulp, snack and go, and generally rush around life fitting in as much as possible.
The next time you sit down for a meal, try to be a keen observer of your eating. How do you eat? Fast, slow or somewhere in the middle? Rushing through meals, and feeling stressed while eating not only impacts digestion and satiety, but it will also impact the amount of food you ingest. It takes time (20-30 min) for your brain to realize the stomach is "full".
Sitting down, and slowing down, allows your body to release some of the stress it has taken on, and to get into digestion mode. Most importantly, it allows us to experience what we are eating. Coming to your table, with the intention of eating slower, putting your fork down, and pausing for conversation, will help you feel conscious with food, and really FEEL like you have eaten your meal. You may find yourself satisfied with less.
CHEW LONGER. As a Dental Hygienist, I am always thinking about how our mouth connects the body, and here is a practical reason for chewing longer.
Your salivary enzymes start here, in your mouth, long before it tastes it's first bite of enchilada.
These salivary glands are innervated by nerve branches from the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. When you arrive at the table (hopefully relaxed), your saliva starts prepping your mouth for food before you even take a bite.
Chewing longer pulverizes your food, helping your digestion out by releasing nutrients, and also gives your body time to give a signal that it is full. When you chew, you can pay mindful attention to the texture, tastes, and feel of the food. Waiting to swallow, can offer a moment to incorporate all the senses in the meal, and AGAIN, you may be surprised at how satisfied you are with less.
LISTEN TO THE BODY SIGNALS. Many of us are so in line with a schedule of eating, we have lost the connection to true hunger. Whether you are eating 3 meals a day, with 2 snacks, or 6 small meals, or fasting-mimicking, or WHATEVER way you eat right now, this can train our stomachs to want food at a certain time.
We also eat due to internal dialogue with ourselves. Who, at our age HASN'T heard the clean your plate or no dessert message? Or, for a person who is restricting food, going out to a social event means a massive internal chat to "not eat that, no dessert, ok maybe a bite, oh look what you did..."
WHY we are eating, WHAT we are saying to ourselves, even WHERE we eat is just as important as what food we eat and how much.
I hope these tips help you, and if you would like to know more, sign up for my Mindful Mini Series. Let me know what you think, and please, share some tips of your own over here on my Facebook page!
Be Well, and Be Happy too :)