Think about the following scenarios:
- You are extremely hungry and you go to the food shop. In a fit of ‘hanger’ (hunger + anger), you fill your trolley with pretty much everything you can get your hands on, pay the larger than usual bill at the checkout, and go home to unload your monster-load into the kitchen.
- You are eating your lunch at your desk at work, while checking your emails. You are pretty hungry after putting in a good morning of grafting, and you go to fill another fork or take another bite of your roll, only to realize that you have already finished.
- You decide to work from home for the day. You are tipping away on the laptop, and when a little pang of hunger strikes, you remember that cake that is sitting in the fridge. You go and take a little bit, and return to your computer. After 10 minutes, you return again. You repeat this process until there is only a solitary piece of delicious cake left. What the hell, you may as well finish that off as well!
I can relate to all of the above, because I have been that soldier many times in the past. The one common theme that runs through all of them is that one distraction or another causes unmindful eating that results in consuming WAY more than I actually wanted, a bloated feeling, and a lack of enjoyment from the food. ‘Mindfulness’ is somewhat of a new buzzword around town, and can come across a bit airy fairy depending on what information your are getting, but make no mistake, mindful eating can really help you achieve your body composition goals, having a healthy digestive system, breaking through a plateau, or getting those extra pounds off for good. In terms of ‘bang for your buck’ spending a bit of time and effort on eating more mindfully is right up there with the most effective nutritional strategies, not to mention that you will enjoy your food a lot more! So here are 5 quick tips that you can employ straight away to eat more mindfully.
- Chew More
Chewing your food more breaks down the food better, meaning that you get more nutrition out of the food that you are eating, and it says it right here in the scientific literature that faster eating is associated with obesity. Chewing your food more will give you the feeling that you are fuller a bit sooner compared to when you eat fast, so if getting lean and healthy is your goal, take your time and savor your food.
- Turn the electronics off
In 2103 this study by Vik et al. found that children who never watched TV during meal times had lower odds of being overweight. This supports the 2007 research by Temple et al. that suggested that watching television while eating could handsomely increase the amount of food that we are taking in, resulting in an increased energy intake, which could be extremely detrimental to your progress if you want to burn more fat! This type of distraction is even more prevalent now than ever before with samrtphones, tablets, and apps overflowing.
Eat at the kitchen table or sitting on the floor, and concentrate on the job at hand; enjoying the tasty food that you have prepared for yourself!
- Eat at set times
Picking at food throughout the day is a good strategy if you want to bulk up or put on some extra weight, but most of you who will ready this are quite the opposite. You would be surprised at how many extra calories/ food/ energy/ whatever you want to call it, you can consume by having snacks throughout the day. There is a school of thought that actually promotes snacking, and encourages you to be a ‘grazer not a gorger’, but its too complicated for my liking. I like to keep it simple, and t doesn’t get simpler that eating 4 meals per day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and evening meal. Include a protein source, and vegetables and/or salad stuffs at each meal, and keep your main carbohydrate sources (potatoes, rice, etc) for after training sessions. We don’t need to be constantly picking at food, and despite what you might read elsewhere, you will not implode or die of starvation, or be overcome with stress hormones if you go a few hours without food. Eat proper meals at set times. In other words, as Coach Dan John says ‘eat like an adult’!
- Eat together
Food is so much more than fuel for the fire, or energy to get you through the day. It brings us together, helps us form bonds, and eventually becomes our bodies. We laugh, learn, discuss, and chat over food, and the more meals that you eat in company, the better…in my book anyway. Eating with others who have the nutrition habits that you want to develop is a great way to ‘learn by osmosis’, and you will pick things up without even knowing it. How much, what food, how fast etc. Picking up habits is a positive side effect, but I really believe that eating together with your friends and family brings something much more powerful to the table that I’m not even sure that I know how to describe. Lets just eat together and see how it goes.
- Eat quality food
Our friend Martin Conroy from Woodside Farm Free-range Pork could give you a free 20 minute lecture on the importance of eating quality food, and the price that you will pay by eating the rubbish that often gets passed as food these days. As he told us last week at Douglas Farmers Market on Saturday: “you only have one body, and you only get one chance”. Eating quality food will not only keep you healthier, but you will develop an appreciation for the food that you are eating, as you will know that the animals were well cared for, and the vegetables were look after well when they were in the ground. It will be tastier, and you will want to savor every bite, meaning that you are less likely to overeat, and will feel more satisfied at the end. As an added benefit, by eating quality (and local) food you will support the local economy, and pass on the nasty chemicals and preservatives that are often pumped into ‘commercial’ food that you often see in the big supermarkets. Shamless plug to finish off; go and buy the most tasty bacon, sausages, and burgers from Martin. He’s in Wilton market on Tuesday, Mahon on Thursday, and Douglas on Saturday.