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Are you a Mindless Muncher?

mac and cheese.jpgImagine mealtime at your house. Does it go like this?

The kids are screaming, the dog is barking, the phone is ringing, and the kids are starving NOW! Soccer practice ran late leaving you less time to prepare dinner, piano lessons start in 30 minutes, and you have to feed everyone else and eat on the go. You get the kids sitting down and your dinner consists of shoving the leftover macaroni and cheese that they didn't eat into your mouth as you run out the door. During a lull in the action, you are able to grab a bag of something crunchy while you catch up on e-mails. Once the hectic day is behind you, you can't think of doing anything else but staring at the TV with a bowl of ice cream in your lap.

This is not a scenario that sets the stage for mindful eating, is it?

When we eat mindfully, many things occur. First of all, we are aware of how much we are eating. We are more in tune with our body's signals that tell us when to eat, how much to eat, and when our body has had enough. We overeat less because we are paying closer attention to what our bodies need. When we eat mindfully, we are also able to more fully enjoy our food because we are focused on the flavor, texture, aroma, presentation and atmosphere that surround us and the food we're eating. When we eat mindfully, our bodies are determining when to eat as opposed to the event, the clock, or the show on TV.

mindful-eating.jpg
Picture a beautifully set table with candles, china and sparking silverware. Music is playing softly in the background, you're wearing something flattering and your partner notices how great you look. You're hungry for your dinner, the food looks delicious and you casually stroll to the table for your exquisitely prepared meal. It wouldn't be difficult to eat mindfully in this scenario, would it?

To eat mindfully, the first step is to be aware of what, when and why you are eating. You need to catch yourself eating when you're not hungry.

So often we eat mindlessly when we're passing food to others, making snacks for the kids, preparing dinner, walking past the candy dish at work, reading or watching TV. We may even find ourselves looking for something to eat when we have a few minutes to spare before the next activity, using the food as a way to kill some extra time. Somethings we may wander into the kitchen, open up the cabinets and wonder why we are even there!

I'm not talking about emotional eating, where food is used as a coping mechanism offering quick relief from your emotional pain. That is a whole other discussion. I'm talking about mindless eating where distractions and a lack of awareness cause you to take in food when you're not hungry-when you are not paying any attention to what you are eating!

Here are some ideas to help you become a more conscious eater and conquer that mindless munching.

1) Stop and ask yourself why you're eating.

Believe it or not, you may not even realize that you had something in your hand or your mouth. Ask yourself if you could possibly be thirsty instead. (Our thirst mechanism doesn't always work effectively. We often confuse thirst with hunger).

2) Ask yourself what you really need.

If you are bored, you need something to do - not something to eat! If you don't know what you are feeling, you need to figure that out, too!

If you are eating just because the food is there, here are a few tricks that might work for you.
nail-polish.jpg
Chew Gum - If you just want to keep your mouth busy, gum might satisfy that oral need.

Teeth Whitening Strips - You can't eat for 30 minutes with one on. Less eating and whiter teeth!

Take Your Hands out of Commission - Polish your nails, apply creamy scented lotion, knit, or even wear rubber kitchen gloves. It would be hard to eat mindlessly with any of those obstacles in the way.

Brush Your Teeth - You could also pop in a breath strip. For many people, enjoying that minty, fresh taste will prevent eating.

funny-dog.jpgFind Something Else to Do - Brush the dog, clean a drawer, anything that keeps you busy and out of the kitchen.

Visualize - Picture a regular sized plate. Now picture that plate with all of the snacks, bites and treats that you grabbed mindlessly during the day. Put everything on the plate that you grabbed when you walked by the candy dish, ate standing up, tasted while you were cooking, nibbled while you were on the phone, sampled while you were feeding the kids, or snacked on while you watched TV. How does the plate look? Is it overflowing?

When learning to eat mindfully, it's important to focus on your food as you eat it. The best way is when you eat slowly, sit down and concentrate on the taste of what you're eating. Many mom's feel that sitting down to a meal is a rare treat. But by sitting down to a meal, many things happen. You are more aware of the amount you eat and the reasons why you are eating. Mindful eating also leads to better digestion. You get more benefit from the nutrients you are eating. Finally, by eating mindfully, you're sending an important message to yourself that you are worthy and deserving of some much needed self-care. You're treating yourself with some kindness and respect which overflows to those around you.

And that's SO much better than leftover macaroni and cheese!


Debi Silber, "The Mojo Coach"
www.TheMojoCoach.com

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Posted in: Blog, The Mojo Coach on 10/08/2009

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