Resolutions have been made and commercials for weight loss systems, foods and gadgets are flooding the market. If you’re like most people, you probably can’t stand the thought of another “diet” program, which makes this the ideal time for some brain training.
When was the last time you stopped, focused on and truly enjoyed your food? Mindfulness, mindful eating, conscious eating, intuitive eating: All of these terms get used interchangeably but actually have slightly different meanings. Mindful eating is probably most commonly used. This method focuses more on how you engage in eating — how fast you eat, appreciation of your food, your personal responses to hunger, etc. The concept of mindfulness is to be present in the moment and aware of your surroundings and the food you eat, paying close attention to all of your senses. Staying focused increases the likelihood you are satisfied with one piece of chocolate as opposed to a whole bar.
Want to give it a try? Practice these six tips shared by weight loss and bariatric dietitian Amanda Clark to become a more mindful eater.
Deliberately Notice Your Food
Before anything goes in your mouth, take a deep breath and look at your food. Its presentation. How much of it there is. How does that relate to how hungry you feel? Has it been presented attractively? Would you have done it differently? It doesn’t matter whether your assessments are positive or negative so long as you’re taking the time to think about it.
Note the Variety
Say it’s a granola bar. Are there raisins in there, or cranberries? Are there oats or rice? Take a minute to notice and appreciate your food’s ingredients.
Smell Your Food
What do you notice? Does it smell stale? Fresh? Can you identify some ingredients from the aroma?
Observe its Texture
With every mouthful, note your food’s texture and try to put a word to it. Imagine you’re a food critic who is going to write about this meal and decide on the most fitting words.
Is it Hot, Cold, Room Temperature?
Has what you’re eating been in the fridge? Is it at the ideal temperature for you or is it a little too hot or too cold? How do you like it best?
Finally, Savor the Flavors
Imagine that you didn’t see what you put in your mouth. Can you identify it? Can you, for example, tell the difference between chicken and fish? Is it the flavor or is it the texture that you recognize?
Practicing these six strategies should remind you to slow down, enjoy your meal and commit to eating mindfully. Want to practice? Here’s the perfect one-pot meal to get you started.
Slow Down Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- ½ cup coined carrot
- 2 chopped cloves garlic
- 3 cups shredded cabbage
- 2 cups cubed winter squash
- 3 cups trimmed and chopped green beans
- 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup halved and sliced zucchini
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Optional shaved or grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, carrot and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.
- Add cabbage, squash, green beans, tomatoes and basil. Stir to combine and cook 3 minutes.
- Add broth and bring to a simmer. Cover, lower heat and cook for 20 minutes.
- Add zucchini and salt. Cook for 5 minutes or until zucchini is cooked through. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan is desired.