October through December is a tough time of the year for many people to maintain healthy eating habits. We have so much temptation from pumpkin spice lattes, Halloween candy, pies, copious amounts of potatoes and food in general. Cocktail parties seem to occur every weekend and it is hard to stay away from the food table.
This is the perfect time of year to practice mindful eating. Mindful eating is not a diet and doesn’t require you to deprive yourself. In fact, when we eat mindfully we enjoy food so much more, and feel better. How many times have you had an extra serving or one more dessert and hated the way you felt? Mindful eating helps us avoid this.
Take a deep breath. Often we eat when we are stressed out. The next time you are deciding what to eat, stop and breath deep into your belly. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Take this breath to connect with your body and really know your level of hunger – are you a little bit hungry, famished, or somewhere in between? What food would satisfy your hunger right now?
Picture yourself eating the food. Is your mouth watering thinking about a certain food? What do you think you’ll feel like after eating it? Do you have a good experience with this food or a bad one? Don’t worry about calories or health benefits here. Think of how you physically feel when you eat. Then if you decide you want to eat it, go for it! How do you feel? Was this a good decision for you, or did it make you feel heavy?
Stop halfway through your meal. Put the fork down! Swallow, and look at your plate. Are you still hungry? Do you feel satisfied? Many people have guilt wasting food – but are you wasting it, or “waisting” it? If you decide you’re still hungry, keep eating. If you decide you are satisfied, break out the Tupperware!
With mindful eating we can tune into what our body needs to feel happy. Usually it is healthful food – sometimes it is dessert. But falling into a guilt trap about what you are eating will only send you spinning in circles of deprivation and overconsumption.