Chocolate bunnies seemed to pop up this year not soon after Santa’s sleigh was packed away, and if you’re a little like us and are still recovering from some of the over indulgences of Christmas, the arrival of Easter (and all those chocolaty delights) may be making you feel like healthy eating and being “good” is a hopeless cause. But fear not… We’re here to help!
Whether it’s Easter or any other celebration, remember it’s a holiday and over the holidays we tend to eat more than usual and it’s quite normal. During the busyness of holidays and social engagements surrounded by food, we are more likely to eat mindlessly than mindfully. Even people with a “normal” relationship to food eat more over the holidays. So it’s best to have realistic expectations that you’re very likely to eat more at some meals. However with the help of mindful eating this Easter you can “have your Chocolate Eggs and eat them to!” 😉
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating helps us learn to hear what our body is telling us about hunger and satisfaction. It helps us become aware of who in the body/heart/mind complex is hungry, and how and what is best to nourish it
Mindful eating uses the ancient art of mindfulness, or being present, to help cope with modern eating problems. It’s not a diet. There are no menus or food restrictions. It is developing a new mindset around food.
So is mindful eating only helpful for those watching their waist line?
In short, No… Mindful eating is helpful for many different eating issues. During the past 20 years, studies have found that mindful eating can help you to 1) reduce overeating and binge eating, 2) lose weight and reduce your body mass index (BMI), 3) cope with chronic eating problems such as anorexia and bulimia (under the supervision of a mental health professional), and reduce anxious thoughts about food and your body and 4) improve the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes. Thus, it has many benefits!
Let’s move onto the helpful tips….
Here are some ways to help retrain our approach to food and bridge the gap between mindless and (more) mindful eating. Follow these tips to bring our bodies and minds back together.
1) Eat Sloooowy… Let your body catch up to your brain
Eating rapidly past full and ignoring your body’s signals vs. slowing down and eating and stopping when your body says its full.
Did you know that the body actually sends its satiation signal about 20 minutes AFTER the brain, which is why we often unconsciously overeat.
2) Listen to your body
Are you responding to an emotional want or responding to your body’s needs?
We all experience different emotions, be they stress, sadness, frustration, loneliness or even just boredom. Too often, we eat when our mind tells us to, rather than our bodies. True mindful eating is actually listening deeply to our body’s signals for hunger. Ask yourself: What are your body’s hunger signals, and what are your emotional hunger triggers?
3) Develop healthy eating environments
Eating alone and randomly vs. Eating with others at set times and places
Consider what’s around you, where your food is kept and whether it’s in sight. Ever heard the phase “out of sight, out of mind?” When we put our food away in cabinets and the fridge its less likely to be mindlessly consumed,.
Also when we change our behaviour around food consumption, for example by limiting eating to certain locations like the kitchen and dining room, we are also less likely to eat mindlessly or eat while multitasking.
4) Attend to your plate – Distracted eating vs. just eating
Multitasking and eating is a recipe for not being able to listen deeply to our body’s needs and wants. We’ve all had the experience of going to the movies with our bag full of popcorn, and before the coming attractions are over, we are asking who ate all of our popcorn. When we are distracted, it becomes harder to listen to our body’s signals about food and other needs.
Mindful eating may be one key to turning around all of our unhealthy eating patterns.
So our motto this Easter is to not deprive yourself, partake in the celebrations with family and friends and embrace this social time of year. Whether you overeat, undereat or eat just enough it’s OKAY. Don’t beat yourself up. Let it be. Be kind to yourself. 🙂
It’s best to remember that change takes time, and we don’t need to aim for perfection. If you simply made a small adjustment to your approach to indulging over then you’ve made a big bunny leap forward into mindful eating.
Eat, drink and be mindful this Easter!
For more information on the power of mindful eating check out the research work by Dr. Susan Albers
Or follow the cause on Twitter @eatingmindfully
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