This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned the importance of mindful eating, and it most certainly won’t be the last. I know that carefully thinking through food choices probably seems like a massive chore (especially when you’re out with friends or tired at the end of the day), but please trust me—it is always worth it. It’s kind of like working out—you’ll never, ever regret doing it! And just like exercise, consistency is key with mindful eating!
How often do cravings hit at mealtime? Do you frequently indulge them? If you wake up in the morning with a hankering for pancakes or a fatty breakfast sandwich, gulp down a glass of water and pause for a minute to ask yourself if it’s really worth it.
Once in a while, it just may be. But taking that moment to slow down a bit and think things through will allow you to evaluate what and why you are craving something. Are you dehydrated? Are you eating too many sugary foods or not getting enough sleep? Managing cravings are not out of your control (no matter what you might have yourself believe), and if you consistently have them, it’s likely that your diet is lacking in something that your body needs.
If I have a strong craving for something that isn’t very healthy, I try to find a happy medium, and that usually does the trick. If I want pizza, perhaps I’ll make a quesadilla or tortilla packed with veggies at home. If I’m getting bored of salads at lunch, I might opt for a sandwich wrap with a small soup.
One thing I always do though, is think about my meals for the day and plan accordingly. For instance, if breakfast was a little carb-heavy, then I’ll load up on veggies and a protein for lunch. If I’m going out for dinner, I’ll eat lighter at my previous meals, but make sure to have an apple or Greek yogurt a few hours beforehand so I’m not starving (and reaching for the bread basket!) once I get to the restaurant.
It’s also important to practice mindful eating during the weekend. The minute I stopped treating Saturday and Sunday like a cruise ship buffet line, was the moment I started dropping weight. Why undo all of your hard work with just a few meals—or in some cases—bottles of alcohol? Is it really worth it? Do you like starting Monday feeling heavy and bloated? Isn’t the need to “start over” every single week a bit draining and deflating?
Don’t “diet” during the week so that you can feel better about going bonkers during the weekend. Be sensible during the week, indulge a little here and there when it’s really worth it, and then do the same for the weekend. Sure, more social obligations on the weekend can make healthy eating more challenging, but with an attitude adjustment and a little planning, you will soon learn how navigate any situation! And don’t worry what your friends are eating—or not eating—stay focused on YOU and the decisions that will help you reach your goals.
You’ve heard of “stop, drop and roll,” right? Well, I’m telling you to pause, think and eat. Mindfully, of course!
Tell me: Are you a mindful eater? What challenges do you face when it comes to making conscious food choices?
– ELLEN COLLIS
Ellen Collis is a blogger at Wannabe Health Nut and Health Coach in NYC, who graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free health consultation to discuss how she can assist you with your nutrition and lifestyle goals. She would love nothing more than to help you have more energy, feel fabulous in your own skin and live a healthy life that doesn’t require giving up your favorite foods.