Mindful eating, simply put, is paying attention to our body’s level of hunger and fullness, noticing what it is we choose to consume, and eating until just satisfied. This may have been challenging before having children, but once the toddler stage hits, there will be plenty of leftover food on our kids’ plates tempting us to shovel into to our mouths because:
a.) we certainly don’t want to waste food.
b.) it secretly looks delicious and when stolen off someone else’s plate calories don’t exist.
c.) it is simply easier to place the food directly into our mouths than wrap it up for tomorrow’s leftovers.
d.) we turn into mindless Mamavores, unconsciously consuming whatever food remains.
When we stop and pay attention, though, we may realize just how many extra calories we are consuming in this barely conscious way. So, in order to avoid this ongoing pattern, it helps to put a game plan in place. Here are a few tips:
- Once your little one has finished her meal, move her plate out of your reach or take a moment to wrap up the leftovers immediately, so you are not tempted to repeat the above scenario.
- If you are moving towards her leftovers, pause, and ask yourself why. Is it out of boredom, anxiety, or just plain habit?
- If you are truly hungry and deliberately choose to eat the leftovers, enjoy the food slowly. Be aware.
- Pay attention to your energy level after eating various types of food. You may be surprised at how some can completely sap our energy while others help sustain it for hours.
- Include your family in mindful eating, teaching everyone to pause and take a breath before diving in. Using your senses, notice the colors and shapes of the food, take a moment to reflect on how the food made its’ way to the table, inhale the fragrance of the food, and chew the first few bites slowly, fully tasting the flavors. You may want to mindfully eat your last bite as well, as a reminder to remain somewhat aware during the meal, thereby noticing more easily when we have reached the sweet spot of just enough.
Subduing the Mamavore can not only tame the growth of our waistlines and increase our energy, but also models mindful food habits for our children — a gift of health for a lifetime.
To learn more about mindful eating join me for a free talk at St. Luke's Bariatric Surgery Support Group Wednesday, February 15th from 7-9 at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in Allentown. I will be talking about how to make mindful eating a part of everyday life - with lots of practical tips! Everyone is welcome. Hope to see you there!