The warm and rejuvenating summer months are the perfect opportunity to press the reset button and let go of the clutter that is no longer serving us.
Although any type of shift or lifestyle change can be daunting at first, remember, it is all about choosing simplicity & balance over drastic & unsustainable changes.
For instance, there is a lot of noise right now about what it means to eat mindfully, so it can be tempting to go down every rabbit hole. Honoring and listening to our bodies requires us to dig a little deeper to understand WHY we eat, how we eat, and when we eat for reasons other than hunger.
Fearmongering, in the name of health, in front of the backdrop of an appearance-based culture, has triggered the perception that we are one bite away from a disaster.” -Evelyn Tribole.
So, what’s the problem? Especially if a diet helps us reach our weight loss goal?
If we listen to diets, influencers, etc rather than our own bodies, we can end up feeling like we don’t know how to eat anymore. (“I’m craving something sweet, but sugar is ‘bad’”. Or, “_____ said to eat sprouted whole grains, so I got Ezekiel Bread, but _____ said it has gluten and gluten is “bad”, or… red wine.). This creates a lack of trust in ourselves and a disconnection with our bodies, which creates a dependency on food rules and restrictions.
When we restrict our calories, our cells don’t know why. Our bodies tend to assume famine (especially if there are other stressful factors in our lives), so they hold on to calories, fat by slowing metabolism. It’s survival.
A 2016 study done on contestants from the show The Biggest Loser Study shows that contestants had more lean muscle tissue before the show than after (the tissue had cannibalized itself). Six years later, the muscle was not restored and they had lower levels of leptin (the “fullness” hormone).
You may be thinking in diet terms even if you aren’t actually following a specific diet. Cutting out food groups or looking outside ourselves for all of the answers makes us lose trust in our bodies. Restriction and rules become a roadmap that ultimately leads us to spiral out of control.
As with any sustainable lifestyle shift, it is important to get honest with ourselves about our goals and habits. Is emotional or mindless eating preventing you from feeling your best? Try implementing small, digestible habits to move the needle. This can be as simple as plating all of your food rather than eating out of the bag or chewing at least 20 times before swallowing. Maybe you want to incorporate more movement into your day and find that fitting in a ten-minute walk around the block helps jumpstart your day.
Above all else, remember to start small, treat your Mindful Eating Toolbox
Check your hunger:
“What is the function”, “am I truly hungry”? Real hunger comes on slowly and for a variety of foods. Cravings (aka emotional) comes on quickly and are usually prompted by a thought (“what’s next on my to-do list?”)
Go THROUGH something first. Water, veggies like celery + hummus, etc).
Keep a regular schedule with your meals. Schedule it into your calendar.
Portion it out and put away the rest.
Eat without distraction and CHEW YOUR FOOD. Put down the phone, turn off the TV or computer, and truly taste what is in front of you.
Part of going through something. Set the stage with a yummy candle, a comfy blanket, sip slowly, pretty cloth napkin, tray, etc. Distracting if nothing else. While tea doesn’t help us hydrate, having tea can help signal us to drink water and so often, dehydration feels like hunger.
The stress vitamin.
Deficiency in B vitamins makes us more prone to depression and anxiety. This can increase our cravings for starchy carbs (think cookies, pasta, bread, etc). Try increasing B-rich foods like unrefined grains (quinoa, rice, buckwheat (things not make with flour), peas, beans, nuts, and egg yolks.
Everything we eat when we’re tense, a pattern is created in our brain. Eating when stressed becomes our default. Just like with any habit, it’s not always easy to break but is doable with consistency and MANAGEABLE baby steps. Redirect what you do when you feel tense, and you’ll break the habit. It’s called neuroplasticity. It’s the ability to make NEW connections in your brain.