I wish I could take credit for that statement because I LOVE IT but I actually heard it the other night on a special K commercial. It’s liberating to have permission not to make a weight loss resolution. I’ve done these types of goals in the past and it has always set me up for failure. I was talking to a patient sarcastically this morning about how this year, if there ever was a year, would be the most perfect time to make a weight loss resolution since New Years fell on a Monday! That’s right a Monday! Isn't it the most perfect day to start a new diet….New Years Day and a Monday!?! I can only imagine how packed the gym will be that day.
So where does that leave us if we’re not supposed to make food or weight resolutions and we still want to change our habits? Rather than think restrict and refrain and suck joy out of living, how about we strive to improve our relationship with food? Sure, we could all benefit from eating out less, eating less sugar and moving more – there’s no denying any of that! But to be successful in the long term we need to come to a place where food is not the enemy. We need to learn how to eat a piece of cake on our kid’s birthday and not consume the remaining pieces at 11pm after everyone else went to bed. We need to figure out how to incorporate daily movement in our day not because we want to be a different size but because it gives us amazing amounts of energy, helps us sleep better and can be used as a stress reducer. We need to learn how to make those lasting changes year after year vs coming up with a diet strategy that leaves us depleted, exhausted and ultimately with a big F for failure on our forehead.
Here are 5 mindful eating tips that can be incorporated year-round. In fact, they are my personal nutrition goals for 2018. If I can get these things right, I honestly believe the rest will fall into place naturally.
The 5 S’s to Mindful Eating
S – Sit down (preferably at your dining room table and eat from a plate). Sitting will help you stay present in the moment and focused at the task at hand. No more carrying food in your hand
as you walk from room to room or leaning over the sink to finish leftovers. This is a great tool when you go to a party to help minimize calories consumed from the chip bowl. Chances are if you have to ask the hostess for a plate and then sit by yourself at the table, the chips won’t have the same appeal.
S – Slow down. This is simple to say yet hard to practice. We should take roughly 20 minutes to consume a meal. Anything faster and we’ll miss the signals that travel from our stomachs to our brains saying we have had enough. Try taking 3 to 5 deep breaths before you start a meal to set the tone for speed.
S – Simplify your environment. Clutter = chaos and chaos = stress. And we all don’t eat well when we’re stressed. Remove the mail and papers from the table or counter. Also, no screens (phone, computer, TV) or eating in your car. These are all distractions.
S- Savor. That’s right, it’s all about quality over quantity. Chances are if you check in with yourself over the course of the meal you might find you’re not even enjoying the taste or texture. Food always tastes better when you’re a little bit hungry. Also allow food to spend more time in your mouth where your taste buds are rather than in your stomach (which goes back to slow down)
S – Smile. After you’ve taken your deep breaths (see above) can you smile? Not a cheesy, jaw clenched smile but a genuine smile? Chances are if you’re stressed, agitated or tired, smiling is the last thing you feel like doing. And if you can’t smile, then eating probably isn’t in your best interest at that time. Find another activity like listening to music, going for a walk, or going to bed.
These are my goals for 2018. What will your goals be for the new year?