By Lindsay Ford, MS, RD.
Shift Fuel Head Coach
Winter is coming.
If you are into the Game of Thrones then you know this verse well.
In this popular HBO series, the reality of “winter is coming” is a common concern through every episode of every season. The essence is such – buck up because we are about to go through harsh weather and potential food shortages. Get ready.
In today’s world, this is NOT the reality (for most). Bucking up for us includes pulling out sweaters from storage and anticipating higher energy bills to keep the house warm. In addition, the winter months typically represent the season of feasting, celebrating holidays and spending more time indoors (and here lies the struggles).
If you are a Shift follower, I am going to assume you will continue to train through the winter months.
However, deep down you may struggle with food being such a focal point October through February. Think back to all the parties, Halloween candy, celebrations, baked goods, specialty candy, and comfort food you have experienced in the past. You may be salivating and certain memories may come to mind. History tells us feasting is normal and a part of life, yet feasting for months may not be what you are looking for.
What should you do differently this year?
Mindful eating involves slowing down with your food, being aware of what you are eating and being non-judgmental in the process.
Mindful eating involves tapping into your hunger and fullness cues.
Mindful eating is being aware of what is going on within you and around you in the moment.
- Are you hungry?
- How hungry?
- Are you tired?
- Are you feeling stressed?
- Are you sitting at the table?
- What does your food smell like?
- How does your food e?
- When you take a bite of food what flavors come through?
These are common questions and things to consider when practicing mindful eating.
Positive research surrounding mindful eating is growing and showing a lot of promise for those that struggle with portion control, binge-eating, weight management and those relying heavily on processed foods.
How is it helping? Studies are revealing there is more satisfaction and enjoyment from the food as well giving people the time to recognize the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. In addition, mindful eating is giving people hope that they don’t have to struggle as much with food. In so many words, mindful eating can help create a better relationship with what we are putting into our body.
Lets face it. Your food environment is most likely about to change. You will be exposed to more holiday candy. You will be invited to holiday parties. The alcohol will be flowing. The desserts are going to look fantastic. Instead of creating irrational rules for the next few months, try mindfully eating at least ONE meal out of your day October through February.
ONE MEAL. That’s it.
How do you go about this?
- Take 5 slow, deep, nasal breaths. Inhale, hold briefly, then slowly exhale. This helps get you to a parasympathetic state; rest and digest.
- Set a timer for 20 or 25 minutes.
- Place whatever food you are about to consume at a table. Get out the fork, knife and spoon. Create a positive environment if you desire (e.g., light a candle).
- Take a moment and look at your food. What is the aroma? What do you appreciate about the meal? On a scale of 1-10, how hungry are you? 1 feeling being starved and 10 feeling stuffed.
- For the next 15-20 minutes, take your time eating the meal or food. Eat slowly, chew your food thoroughly and pay attention to the flavors.
- About half way through, check in your fullness. As you continue to eat you may notice that are you getting full and satisfied. For most people, stopping around a 7 or 8 (if using a hunger scale) is wise as getting to the point of stuffed isn’t always comfortable.
As you get ready for the next few months, prepare yourself to practice this new way of eating. Instead of trying to eat perfectly through the season of winter and celebration, practice mindful eating. Embrace slowing down and savoring your food. Use your intuition. Use your wise mind. Perhaps, just perhaps, this way of eating an be something you practice for the rest of your life.