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Eat Mindfully this Holiday Season

We all know at least one person who is able to stick to a healthy lifestyle. We may call them “gifted” or assume they have some superhuman willpower. Want to know their secret? 

They pay attention to not only what they eat…but also HOW they eat.

The how of eating must be part of the equation, otherwise the mere whiff of an airport Cinnabon will be enough to lure you away from your healthy intentions. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? 

Besides, the how is a much more natural place to begin because it’s where we started out as infants. Yes, you and I came into this world as mindful eaters.

Being With Your Food

Mindful eating means being fully present for the eating experience. It includes:

  • Awareness of the flavor, texture and aroma of your food.
  • Paying attention to the sensation of your inner body as it gently moves from ‘hungry’ to ‘satisfied’.
  • Eliminating meal time distractions like phone, email, texting, television, and yes, even reading.
  • Eating in pure enjoyment and gratitude.

These are all natural behaviors that can be witnessed by observing a baby during feeding time. Pay attention and you’ll notice it—they are fully present with their food…which is why you’ll never catch them overeating. If three ounces is all they want, there’s nothing you can do to make them drink another drop.

Only when you are fully present with your food are you able to uncover and tap into your innate, fine-tuned ability to sense hunger and fullness. This ability will help you minimize the chances of overeating…which of course is a practice all too common around the holidays. Make no mistake, the ability to be a more mindful eater is rooted deep within; you were born with this gift, and still harness it today. 

Which TV Are You Watching?

When you eat, there are three possible “televisions” you can have before you. 

The first plays movies of your past, the second shows scenes of the anticipated future, and the third looks like a television, but the screen is actually a mirror, reflecting back to you this very moment: you sitting down with your meal, in full presence. Let’s call this one TV-Me. 

Just like you can’t watch the movie ET without a box of tissues in hand (no you can’t!), TV-past and TV-future can spark certain emotions, causing you to ignore the yellow light of satiety, blow through the red one, and get a ticket…in the form of an over-satisfied belly. 

Both can also evoke feelings of anxiety, depression, restlessness, anger, guilt, and resistance— all sensations we tend to soothe with comfort food (and I’m not talking chicken soup here!). 

Understand, I am not suggesting you push your emotions away. In fact, being present with your food involves being with your emotions too: noting and feeling them, in the present moment. It’s part of the experience! 

TV-Me: The Only Place To Be!

When you tune into TV-Me, you are choosing mindfulness over unconsciousness. You observe only you, with your food, experiencing all that it has to offer with complete gratitude. You pay attention to your body as it receives the food and feel the reward of nourishment and satiety. 

Watching any television other than TV-Me makes it impossible to be fully present with your food and disconnects you from your roots.

Yes, the temptation to glance at what’s playing on the left or right will always be there, but it’s up to you to grab the remote, turn them off, and deactivate their power. And if they happened to magically turn on, take a breath, note the scene, and then move on to enjoy the rest of your meal in peace and presence.

If you’d like to test this out for yourself, choose a meal to eat mindfully today. Eliminate all distractions during this meal and just be with your food in the present moment. As you eat one bite after another, pay attention to the flavor and texture of your food and feel your inner body as it goes from hungry to satisfied.

Food for Thought…

You have everything it takes to be a healthy eater. So when you eat, just be with your food, in this moment and nowhere else!

Melanie Jatsek
By Melanie Jatsek RD, LD
Heinen’s Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek believes that the answer to a strong, healthy and vibrant body lies within. She graduated cum laude from the University of Akron, earning a degree in Nutrition & Dietetics and has over 20 years of experience in wellness program development, health coaching and professional speaking. As a published author of three books and registered dietitian for Heinen’s Grocery Store, Melanie offers programs, services, and tools to help Heinen’s customers take inspired action to build the healthy body they were meant to live in…without giving up their favorite foods.

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