I love our December challenge of being more mindful. This is a really important habit. Up until now, most of our other healthy habits have focused on what to eat. This habit is more about how you eat. A core concept of being mindful is to eat when you’re hungry, instead for other reasons such as stress, boredom, anger or anxiety. It’s a powerful tool that can change the way you think about food and how much you enjoy it. Importantly, being more mindful is what will help you make long-term changes so all of our healthy habits will stick.
Mindful eating is named after the Buddhist principle of focusing on the present. It’s an ancient concept that’s been practiced for thousands of years, yet it’s never been more relevant. Mindful eating is part of a rapidly growing non-diet movement that rejects restrictive regimens. It embraces the idea of healthy habits, not diets – and that’s what our 12 Healthy Habits program is all about.
Mindful eating is not a diet that you go on and off. It’s about creating your own personal goals for healthy eating and physical activity – realistic goals that you can stick with for life. Here are some ways you can be a more mindful eater.
• All food is good. Remove “good” and “bad” from your food vocabulary. When you label certain foods as “bad” you’ll feel bad about yourself when you eat them. If you get rid of moralistic language around food it becomes less stressful.
• No foods are forbidden. The more you try to avoid certain foods, the more power they gain over you. When you know you can enjoy those “forbidden foods” when you want, the urgency to eat them in large amounts will eventually diminish.
• Say goodbye to guilt. If you’re in the habit of judging food, you also tend to judge yourself by what you ate. That means it’s hard for you to fully enjoy certain foods because you feel guilty when you eat them. Ironically, it’s this guilt that often leads to more overeating, not less.
• Do not punish or judge yourself if you overate. Instead, remember what it feels like to be overly full and then work on new strategies to decrease the likelihood that you’ll eat more than you intended next time.
• You are the expert. Instead of following rigid rules created by someone else (including the latest popular diet), rely on your own instincts. You are the best person to decide how to meet your needs, including when, what and how much to eat based on your body’s cues of hunger and fullness.
Are you trying to be a more mindful eater? Tell us how you are changing how you eat.