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mindful eatingSome people think that the reason they struggle with their weight or healthy eating is because they enjoy food too much. The truth is, they probably need more enjoyment from food. In today’s fast paced world most people don’t take the time to slow down and give eating the attention it deserves. Eating in the car, in front of your computer at work, or while staring at the TV all make it difficult for your brain to fully process the pleasure that you should be getting from your food and the eating process. Furthermore, eating while distracted can lead to overeating [1,2]. To put it into perspective, an extra 100 calories per day over the course of a year is equal to roughly 10 pounds.  That means if you eat just a couple of extra bites of food at each meal, which is easy to do if you’re distracted, you’ll pack on 10 pounds over the course of a year.  Sounds like a pretty good reason to not be distracted while eating.

March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is: Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.  I love the depth of this message.  The mindful eater in me says “Yes! Enjoy your food, no matter what you eat, just love every bite!”, while at the same time the nutritionist side of me screams “but you must choose wisely to feel your best”.  We really do need to find a good balance of nutrition and pleasure from our food in order to really reach that much preached about place of moderation.

3 Steps to Help you Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right

  1. Practice Mindful Eating. Mindful eating involves being consciously and presently aware of your eating.  This includes being aware of why you are eating (hunger, boredom, stress), how you are eating (fast, slow, distracted) and what you are eating (think about where your food came from the next time you eat).  For those that are new to mindful eating you can start by enjoying an undistracted meal, slowing down to enjoy the food while using all of your senses, and paying attention to your fullness cues as the meal progresses.  Use mindful eating regardless of what you are eating but especially when you are enjoying a delicious, but possibly less healthy, treat.
  2. Focus on healthy foods you do like. If you absolutely despise broccoli, forcing yourself to eat it surely isn’t going to help you “enjoy” eating right.  Rather, make a list of all the healthy foods that you do like and see how you can incorporate more of those into your diet.   On that list, try to include plenty of fruits, vegetables and plant based foods like nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, starchy vegetables and whole grains.
  3. Experiment.  If you find the list of healthy foods that you do enjoy is rather short, you may need to step outside of your comfort zone and experiment.  Start by finding new ways to prepare healthy foods you already like.  For example, if you only like a few veggies, find new ways to cook them like roasting, grilling, or putting them in casseroles or soups.  Stretch your experimenting even farther by trying one new food every few weeks or so.  Approach the new food with an open-mind knowing that most people have to try a food about 7 times before fully accepting it.  So, even if the first round was a no go, give it another shot or possibly try to prepare it a different way.  Try to have fun with new foods.

Take this national nutrition month and the rest of your life to really slow down and enjoy the taste of eating right.  Becoming a more mindful eater is a great start along with focusing on healthy foods and stepping outside of your comfort zone to try new things.

Want to learn more about becoming a mindful eater?  Schedule a free Empowered Eating Mini-Session today!

Dina Garcia, RD, LDN
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