7 Mindful Eating Strategies that Can Help You “Eat Better”

Set your intention.

Mindful eating is eating with intention and attention. Assuming that your intention is to feel great, think of dietary changes as choices you make in order to feel your best both short and long term (rather than some externally applied diet).

Consider what your body needs.

When deciding what to eat, ask three questions: What do I want? What do I need? and What do I have? The question “What do I need?” is all about acknowledging your personal health needs, including medical issues, allergies and reactions, family history, and health goals.

Use nutrition information as a tool, not a weapon.

Nutrition knowledge is helpful for making decisions, but it is not the only criteria for deciding what to eat.

Balance eating for nourishment with eating for enjoyment.

There is room in your diet for foods eaten for pleasure! In fact, regularly including foods you love makes it less likely that you will overeat those foods because you ran out of willpower. While it may seem counter-intuitive, when you are free to eat whatever you want, food loses the power it had over you so you don’t even need willpower! As a result, your choices are likely to be more balanced instead of “all of nothing.”

Don’t miss the lesson.

One of the many benefits of mindful eating is that your awareness helps you make connections between what and how much you eat and how you feel—as well as how you feel and what or how much you eat! This direct feedback is very helpful for making changes in order to feel good – not to be good.

Recognize and address your non-hunger triggers for eating.

When a craving doesn’t come from hunger, eating will never satisfy it. By learning to meet your other needs in more effective ways, you won’t use food for that purpose nearly as often.

Eating is for fueling living.

In our food-abundant, diet- and weight-obsessed culture, eating occupies too much of our time, attention, and energy. Your were born with the instinctive ability to eat enough food to fuel your life. Learning how to get back to that place where you can trust your ability to manage your eating without a bunch of rules gives you a pattern of eating that you can sustain almost effortlessly.

 

Source: amihungry.com

101 Things to Do Besides Eat

 

Imagine a healthier, energetic you • Walk around the block • Call a friend • Make a list of your Top Ten Reasons to get active • Read a child a book • Make a To Do list • Dance a little • Plan a vacation • Get a massage • Jot a thank you note to someone • Go to bed early • Read a great book • Write in your Awareness Journal • Give yourself a manicure or pedicure • Plan a healthy meal for your family • Surf the Internet • Finish an unfinished project • Walk your dog • Feel your feelings • Volunteer in your community • Start a hobby • Brush your teeth • Tape your favorite show to watch while exercising • Take 5 slow, deep cleansing breaths • Practice an instrument • Balance your checkbook • Plan a party • Say a prayer • Buy yourself some flowers • Do a few sit-ups • Make a phone call to someone you like • Chop veggies to keep on hand • Set your priorities • Try a new hairstyle • Give a massage • Write down something you are proud of this week • Clean out a junk drawer • Play a game with your kids • Try a new route on your walk • Scream! • Plant fresh herbs to use in your cooking • Drink a glass of water • Kiss someone • Try on some clothes • Catch up on your reading for work • Look at old pictures • Rent a video • Smell the roses • Wash your car • Chew some gum • Plan a date for someone special • Swim a few laps • Read Eat What You Love • Take a hot, soothing bath • Update your calendar • Get it off your chest • Build something • Check on an elderly person • Work in your yard • Start your holiday shopping list • Count your blessings • Write a letter • Fold some laundry • Notice your inner conversations • Take a nap • Run an errand • Work on your budget • Take a bike ride • Check your e-mail • Make a positive statement about yourself and repeat often • Give your dog a bath • Start a project you’ve been wanting to get around to • Send a birthday card • Meditate • Try a healthy new recipe • Play cards • Set your goals • Freshen your make-up • Hug someone • Rearrange some furniture • Go take a hike! • Help with homework • Light a fire or some candles • Say “STOP!” out loud • Organize your photos • Walk around your workplace • Try a new relaxation technique • Talk it over with someone • Get a head start on your taxes • S-t-r-e-t-c-h • Do a “Honey Do” • Say what’s on your mind • Go pick up your mail • Straighten a closet • Think • Do something nice for someone anonymously • Check the stock market • Plan a romantic encounter • Clean out a file • Tell someone how you really feel • When you become truly physically hungry, eat!

Source: Michelle May, M.D. From Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat. AmIHungry.com

Free 5 Days Holiday Mindful Eating Program

For this holiday season, Dr. Susan Albers has created a mindful eating program to help you manage holiday stress.

All you have to do is spend 2 minutes a day watching 2 short videos sent right to your text messages or email during the next 5 days.  You will get:
  • a 1 minute Mindful Eating Challenge
  • and a 1 minute Yoga practice.

Mindful Eating: Rewire Your Response to Food

It’s time to take charge of your food impulses and start doing something really taboo, find genuine pleasure when eating. Many of us often feel guilt, shame or stress when we eat, but the key to enjoying food can be gained through using techniques designed to help you eat mindfully.Learning these skills allows you to enjoy an orange as much as chocolate and not feel anxious about which one you choose.

In this video Dr. Susan Albers breaks down the 4 biggest struggles she helps clients overcome. You will also discover a practical exercise to help quiet your inner food critic.

Mindful Eating: Helpful Methods to Eating Healthy at Home

Having a healthy relationship with food can be tricky when you’re at home. After a long day at work, it’s easy to sit back, turn on the TV and start eating mindlessly while watching your favorite shows.If you add having a rough day to the mix, you can stress eat and choose comfort foods instead of nourishing your body.However, there’s a way to find peace, make different decisions and find joy when eating.

In this video, Dr. Susan Albers shares tangible techniques that helped one of her clients overcome her fear of eating every chip in her house WHILE managing her weight and health in the process. Be sure to listen for the helpful mantras she provides to start raising your confidence and ability to avoid close-by trigger foods that typically nag at your mind.

Mindful Eating: SMILE Between Bites

Smile between bites! Why? For two reasons. First, it’s difficult to slow down when we eat. Smiling between bites gives you a small gap of time to think about whether you really want the next bite or not. If you do, great. If not, it provides a moment to consciously decide. Second, smiling, even fake smiling, sends signals to the brain to release feel good chemicals. Therefore, a smile, can help reduce emotional eating.

So the next time you take a bite, give a smile—a Buddha smile, Mona Lisa or Cheshire grin are all just fine.

Mindful Eating: SIMPLIFY Your Environment!

Your environment can help or hinder your efforts to eat more mindfully.

Take a quick scan of your:

1) Kitchen

2) Pantry

3) Work environment

4) Anywhere you eat

Researchers from Cornell University studied homes around the university. They examined what kinds of foods people kept on their counters. People who had cereal or soda sitting out in a visible location on their counters weighed 26 pounds more than those who didn’t. Even more interesting is that people who had a fruit bowl on their counter weighed 14lbs less. The point is “In sight, in mind. Out of sight, out of mind.”

Place healthy snacks in easy to see locations to give yourself a gentle nudge toward more mindful eating. You don’t have to get rid of treats! Place them strategically. What happens when food is sitting out on the counter? Often, we walk by and take a nibble on autopilot, without even really thinking just because it’s there.

Unfortunately, sometimes you don’t have control over your environment (donuts in the snack room or the unhealthy snacks your significant other brings home). Focus on the parts that you do have some power to influence (your desk, your car). Or, create a mindful spot to eat. Clear away the clutter from the kitchen table. Put down a placemat. Design a space that helps you to eat more mindfully. Enjoy food mindfully.

Source: eatingmindfully.com

Mindful Eating: Derail Stress Eating

Swap out stress eating with other options. Here are some of the best! Stress raises your cortisol level which makes you crave sugary, fatty foods. These techniques are a few examples of things that reduce your emotional eating.

Create a Self-Soothing Tool Kit. Fill a box with soothing items such as bubble bath, gum, tea bags, journal, bubble wrap to squeeze when angry etc. These items reduce your cortisol level. Keep this box handy and in places where you often comfort eating such as on your desk or in your pantry.

Self-Massage. People naturally do self-massage when stressed like rubbing their temples or feet. Intentionally and purposefully massaging tight spots can release feel-good chemicals. Place a tennis ball under your foot and rub. Or, place the ball behind your shoulder blades against the wall. It’s an instant, cheap massage!

Say Ho, Ho, Ho. Laughing yoga has been clinically shown to decrease cortisol levels. Your body doesn’t know the difference between laughter prompted by a joke and when it is artificially created. This is easy. Just create a ho, ho, ho kind of Santa laughter. Do it three times in a row. This may feel silly but will likely prompt real laughter that will lower your stress level and consequently reduce stress eating.


Soothing Tea Time. A cup of black tea can also reduce your cortisol levels by 47% according to a study in the journal Psychopharmology. (If you love chocolate, try chocolate tea by Republic of Tea).

Stretch. Feeling the urge to comfort eat? Choose your favorite yoga pose or stretch. Set your timer for 5 minutes. When you don’t immediately respond to the urge to eat, it often passes. Try the Warrior Pose. Imagine fighting off comfort eating. If you aren’t familiar with yoga, just cross your legs, child-style, close your eyes and enjoy a few moments of quiet. Imagine emptying your mind like a trash can—dumping out all your thoughts.

Grab a Peppermint Gum. Peppermint is not only calming but it helps to curb your appetite according to several studies. If you are having a craving or are seeking comfort food, chew on a sugar-free gum. It will take a long time to eat and can keep your hands and mind occupied.

Source: The Emotional Eater THE EBook by Susan Albers

FIND MORE TECHQNIUES TO CALM AND SOOTHE YOURSELF WITHOUT FOOD IN HER OTHER BOOKS

    

TEA SIPPING MINDFULNESS

What do you do when you have the urge to comfort eat? Did you know that some teas can help soothe and comfort your nerves? Try drinking your tea mindfully, and it will help you to avoid emotional eating even more. Follow the Mindful Sip guidelines below…

S Sip slowly. Sit down. Get comfortable. Create a ritual (drink out of the same cup, same time each day, give yourself 5 quiet, uninterrupted minutes).

I Involve all of your senses. Sniff the aroma. Feel the heat on your hands. Watch the steam rising.

P Present when you drink. Be-in-the moment, truly listening to your body. Notice each sip.

Here are 3 teas that may help if you need to replace stress eating with a better alternative.

1) Valerian Tea. Tea with Valerian root is reputed to contain sedative properties. If you munch at night because you can’t sleep, have difficulty turning off your mind or struggle with anxiety, this tea may be helpful to you. Look for Sleeptime Tea with Valerian (note: not all Sleeptime versions have Valerian in it).

2) Chocolate Tea. Chocolate tea still gives you some of the benefits of dark chocolate (you have probably heard that dark chocolate has healthy nutrients in it). It’s important to set your expectations correctly. It doesn’t taste like cocoa. But, the chocolate aroma is comforting in itself! There are tons of flavors—I recommend Chocolate Chai Tea by Bigelow.

3) Cinnamon Tea. Cinnamon has been shown in clinical studies to help regulate blood sugar and is helpful for reducing the risk of Type II Diabetes. Basically, it helps cool down sugar cravings. Boil water, stick a cinnamon stick in it and a little non-caloric sweetener like stevia or splenda. Easy!

*check with your doctor to make sure these teas are okay for you. Remember that herbs can interact with medications and medical conditions).

*Use artificial sweeteners in place of  regular sugar or honey to save you some calories.

Enjoy life sip by sip, not gulp by gulp. -The Minister of Leaves, The Republic of Tea

Resources: eatingmindfully.com

Mindful Eating: Sit With Your Feelings

When we feel particularly miserable, uncomfortable, or sad, we often find ourselves reaching for unhealthy foods. This isn’t a new idea. In fact, it’s as old as the term, “comfort foods.” In this case, outsmarting your appetite is simple. But that doesn’t make it easy. In fact, you may find it quite a challenge. Here is what you need to do:

Sit still and experience your feelings, even the uncomfortable ones.

Actually feel them.

Examine them.

And accept them.

Use the activity below to try this out. Not only will you distract yourself from your thoughts of food, by engaging your feelings directly, you aren’t shunting them off for your appetite to deal with. You have taken charge!

Practicing Sitting with Your Feelings

Take a moment right now to try this out. Close your eyes. Sit very still. Use the thoughts and physical sensations that pop up to identify what you are feeling. Write those feelings on these lines.

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

Now, tell yourself out loud,

“I am experiencing (name your feelings out loud). These feelings are legitimate. It is okay that I am feeling this way. It may not feel good, but it will not last forever. I accept these feelings.”

Allow your body to embrace the emotions.

Write the feeling down so that in a later moment, you can work out ways to resolve any issues that are causing it.

Then tell yourself,

“I am a strong person. I can deal with these feelings. I will not hide from them behind food.”

You can do this!

Click here for the PDF version of this mindful eating exercise Sit With Your Feelings.

 

Source: Outsmart your appetite by Dr. Susan Albers.

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