This is a 2nd blog edition offering you tidbits on bringing awareness to the act of eating. With awareness a new layer of wellness is revealed that comes from within you! The process of increasing eating awareness is really the same for everyone. One begins by simply slowing down and noticing. Think of it as observing yourself – simply observing your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. They are in constant play as we travel through our day and are part of what makes us a unique individual.
Slow down. If we could all slow down just a little bit! We live in a fast-paced society that allows for little time to pause, little time to reflect. Dr. Stephanie Brown, author of “Speed: Facing Our Addiction to Fast and Faster — and Overcoming Our Fear of Slowing Down”, outlines a strong case for the benefits of slowing down and the hazards of multi-tasking.
How do we slow down with eating? We begin with the act of a pause. Turn off the TV, remove the newspaper, magazine or school work, move away from the computer screen.
Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., RD suggests slowly reciting a series of words just moments before we eat to bring our attention to the act of eating. Think of what each word or phrase means as you read:
Relax. Be attentive. Savor. Take your time. Be deliberate. Give thanks. Don’t rush. Experience every bite. Take only what you need. Be gracious. Live in dignity. Treat yourself well. Enjoy those with you.
Write these words on 3” by 5” cards. Place a card on your dining table at home, in your car and at work. Pause. Step away from eating on ‘auto-pilot’.
Notice. Remain in the moment as you begin, during and as you end the meal. Notice sensations of hunger before a meal and fullness as you end a meal. There are many hunger-fullness rating scales available. The following was created by Debra Waterhouse:
10 – Absolutely, positively, lie-on-the-floor stuffed
9 – So full, starting to hurt
8 – Very full and bloated
7 – Feels food in stomach, comfortably full
6 – Feels food in stomach, not yet comfortably full
5 – No sense of food in stomach, no hunger signals
4 – First, early signals that your body needs food
3 – Stronger signals to eat
2 – Very hungry, irritable
1 – Extreme hunger, dizziness
Listen to your body. How often do you eat when physically hungry? How often do you eat to point of uncomfortable fullness? For now, just notice. If you are not physically hungry, why do you eat? Consider that eating can truly only solve those problems associated with hunger and a physical need for nourishment.
Enjoy. Enjoying eating allows you to experience every bite – the first, the last and all the bites in-between. Allow the attention you bring to eating to enliven your senses: sight, smell, texture, hearing and taste. Notice when your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the act of eating the next bite. Eating in this way allows you to mindfully consider the following. Am I enjoying this? Am I reaching fullness? Can I be done eating now? When we do not notice the enjoyment of food, we miss out on being satisfied on just the right amount.
You can become a more mindful, aware eater. Just like any new skill the journey is in the daily practice.
Ann Reidenbach, MPH, RD, CD of Reidenbach Nutrition, LLC