A topic that has been on my mind lately is mindfully eating. What exactly is mindfully eating? “Mindful eating is eating with intention and attention” (source).
I find that most of the time when I am eating something, I am also multi tasking, whether it is reading a blog, watching tv or working. We live in a world where everything is go go go and you don’t take the time to sit down and think about the delicious meal in front of you.
One thing I have noticed since taking the time to think about mindful eating, is how much I will eat out of boredom. Especially at work in the afternoon, I feel this urge to grab every snack in sight right after lunch. I just want to munch on something at all times. I realized that I was grabbing unhealthy snacks and probably overeating. Not only that, but after work sometimes I would feel so bloated and not even interested in the amazing dinner I had prepared in advance.
To work on this there are a couple things I ask myself before grabbing a snack:
1) Am I hungry or just bored?
This question for me is key! There are meetings that take place at work and breakfast meetings lead to leftover muffins sometimes. I look at the muffins and they look so good, but I already ate a filling breakfast, why do I want this muffin? Really my body doesn’t, but it’s because it is there that I want it. I want it but I don’t NEED it. By asking myself “am I hungry” first, it is usually easier for me to pass up the muffin. (though sometimes I end up taking just 1/4 or 1/2 a muffin and justifying that is better…)
2) How is eating this snack going to make me feel?
Another good question. People bring in donuts to work and honestly, donuts don’t make me feel good. I don’t know if it’s the chemicals in them or the sugar overload, they just make me feel awful. This makes it easy to pass up. [side note: I have found the homemade Amish donuts from Reading Terminal don’t make my stomach upset so I still enjoy those from time to time]
In addition to asking myself those questions, it helps that I bring my lunch to work every day and I can look forward to healthy snacks, like almonds or apple and peanut butter and a salad for lunch. That is pretty much what I eat for lunch everyday and I love it, even if it is repetitive, but I know that eating those fruits and veggies makes me feel good. Plus you can always come up with different salad combos if you get bored with the same thing.
Now another area where mindful eating comes into play. What if you are going out for a meal? Exercising control over how much you eat and your menu selection is important. Normally when I go out, I find I overeat (eat to the point where I am so full it’s hard to walk back to the office afterwards). In my mind, I like to try to eat everything on the plate but we all know restaurants serve big portion sizes. For me, though, I think about the money spent and I want my money’s worth. I realize I have to change this mind set. This week at work I have 3 lunch meetings!! 3 out of 5 days is a lot of eating out for me!! Keep in mind I was invited to all of these and I don’t have to pay anything, but I already was not looking forward to it because it will throw off my daily eats.
Knowing about all these lunch meetings in advance I did some prepping.
1) If I know the restaurant we are headed to, I look over the menu and make my selection before we go. I try to stay with a salad if possible or at least get a side salad with my meal
2) I meal prepped my dinners and other 2 lunches by prepping some kale salad, shredded chicken and rice, this way I will have an easy, light and healthy dinner available after work. All about balance.
3) Tell myself I don’t need to finish the plate and be overly stuffed. Enjoy the meal, eat mindfully!
Another tip that is useful in Mindful eating and to not get overly stuffed at restaurants:
Drink Lots of Water!!
Instead of grabbing for that unhealthy snack because I want to munch on something, I grab for my water bottle. Sure I might have to get up to fill the water bottle and walk to the bathroom more, but your body needs the hydration and I have noticed a big difference with my hunger cues when I grab for more water. Sometimes I really do need the water.
I’ll admit I still work and eat lunch at my desk and sometimes I eat my whole salad before taking a sip of water, so I do need the water later. [Also I only eat lunch at my desk because I like to use my 30 minutes for walking mid day instead. Once it’s colder, I’ll be eating in the lunch room for winter.] However, using these tips and not overeating has helped me to feel better and have more energy because I eat when I am hungry and know I am fueling my body well.
I hope you find these tips useful if you struggle with mindfully eating or possibly overeating out of boredom like me.
Do you eat mindfully?
Do you struggle with overeating when you go out?