By Rita Larsen, RD, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Nutrition Educator & Diet Counselor
Recently we have been looking at some simple techniques that can be used for focus and re-direction of our thoughts for better results in achieving our goals. Whatever it is that you wish to achieve, it is always helpful to reconnect with our own thoughts.
Mindful snacking is the next big category that we can explore as an example of Mindfulness. Eating, after all, is supposed to be a positive experience and one that people maybe think should be spontaneous to be pleasurable. Or is it? While it is not about learning to restrict eating, mindfulness is actually about creating thoughts that will actually increase eating enjoyment.
If you think about the settings that you are in when you are eating your meals, they are often in environments conducive to “not thinking about what we are doing” or eating.
Mindfulness is a powerful tool to bring balance into every aspect of how we eat. According to experts, it cultivates “inner wisdom” or awareness about how our bodies and minds are reacting, as well as, “outer wisdom” for making wiser choices and usefulness of nutritional information to satisfy our needs and preferences.
Here are five “mindful” eating techniques when it comes to snacking:
- Take a minute and bring your awareness to your breath. Slow down by taking two or three deep breaths so that you can focus on what is bringing you to eating in the first place. You might actually be tired, thirsty, or just need a break. Often, individuals just need to do a completely different activity. If you have been sitting, move around. But if you have been extra active, then you probably need a rest. Take note of whether you truly are hungry, then allow yourself to have a snack that will sustain you for the hours until your next meal.
- Choose snacks mindfully. Consider what is “calling your name” in the kitchen. What would be satisfying? What would you enjoy—to relax, and hold you until dinner? Do you want something sweet, sometime savory, crispy, something smooth and creamy? Sometimes you are going to need to replace sodium, and you will feel that as you may be looking for something salty. Other times you may just be thirsty.
- Let your “outer wisdom” help you choose how much to eat. You may want to choose 200 calories for snacks, with 300 calories for meals. If it is getting close to dinner, then you don’t need too much to eat and can figure out a lower calorie snack. If it is a couple of hours until dinner and you want to go workout, than you need to eat more…maybe a sandwich.
- Combine that with your “inner wisdom.” Feel free to eat your food and enjoy it. Eat slowly. Within a very short time, you will start to feel much better as your blood sugar rises. Part of your enjoyment will come from the attention you are placing on the food. Permission to eat is a wonderful feeling; and enjoyment will lead to needing less food.
- But be flexible. Another day and another time, you may want to try some different techniques. Be curious and self-accepting. Over time, it will become so natural to be mindful while you are eating that your pleasure will go up, your eating will take longer, and perhaps you will even feel the need to eat less to satisfy you.
There is so much involved with the eating process, in addition to calories, having too much, and having too little. Remember to enjoy yourself! And bring pleasure to your meals without the constant concern that it is not the right food. Reason and good judgment comes with practice.
Have a good week and think about these opportunities to “think through” your own eating patterns. Any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me!
This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.