The Art of Mindful Eating

by Alyssa Simpson, RD, CDE, CLT

Mindful eating is practicing awareness. Being aware of what you eat, why you eat and when you eat is the key to staying mindful. Mindful eating is a lifestyle, not a diet. When you start to eat for your health it is easier to stick to healthy eating habits. Remember that looking and feeling good comes along with it. Working with a registered dietitian can help you learn how to transform your eating habits and behavior from a “diet” mentality to a more mindful approach to weight loss.

Start with these easy tips below to begin eating mindfully:

Build a better relationship with food. Learn to enjoy food and be mindful while doing it. Instead of just eating an apple, think about where the apple came from, the people who grew it, the way it tastes and the nourishment it is providing to your body.

Listen to your hunger cues. Ask yourself are you really hungry? You may find that you are eating because you are bored, stressed, anxious, or sad. Whatever the reason, find out what’s “eating” you? Understanding your triggers for emotional eating is the first step in changing behaviors. If you tend to eat when you’re stressed, find an activity to do to combat the stress rather than eating for comfort. Call a friend to vent, take a brisk walk, listen to music, do a yoga video, etc. Have an action plan in place so that you are not tempted to reach for that tub of ice cream.

Avoid distractions. Try to avoid distractions such as watching TV, reading or driving while eating. When you eat without distractions you are fully aware, in the moment and can focus on how it tastes, how it feels in your mouth, how your body responds to it, etc. Without distractions, you can pay closer attention to your satiety cues and know when you’ve had enough versus mindlessly eating through a bag of potato chips during your favorite TV show.

Take time during and after meals. To avoid eating meals too fast, try putting your fork down in between bites and chewing food thoroughly. Slowing down during meal time will allow your body to know when it is full. Have a planned activity right after you finish a meal to get your mind off of eating and avoid the temptation of eating further, such as taking a walk, washing the dishes, reading a book, etc.

Mindful eating takes practice to achieve. Remember to eat for your health, savor and enjoy your food. With time mindful eating will become a way of life. Diets are temporary and so are the results, but a lifestyle change will have the most beneficial impact on your health and well-being.

Commit to Eating Dirty in 2015

by Alyssa Simpson, RD, CDE, CLT

2015: Eat Dirty!

Kick off your New Year by eating dirty! That’s right eat dirty, a.k.a eat from the ground. Think about going back to the basics and eating the way Mother Nature intended. We live in a society that has become accustomed to eating foods from boxes, wrappers and packages. Have you ever wondered, “What am I actually eating?” The typical American diet, according to the reports published on the vitamaze website, consists of processed foods, which are high in sodium and calories but low in nutrients, often referred to as “empty calories,” since many vitamins and minerals are lost during the processing.

This New Year I challenge you to rethink your food choices and get back to nature! The best part about eating dirty is that it is easy! It is as simple as eating whole, unprocessed foods that come from the ground.

Ready to Get Dirty? Here’s How to Get Started: 

Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store is the best way to stay away from processed foods. The middle aisles at the grocery store are notorious for containing packaged foods and frozen meals that are highly processed and of low nutritional value. The perimeter of the grocery store contains foods that are in their most natural state, such as produce, dairy products, fresh meat and seafood.

Eat seasonal. Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables is the best way to ensure you are getting the most out of your produce. Fruits and vegetables that were picked when ripe generally have more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than the counterparts that were picked too early. Eating seasonally usually means eating locally too, so you will also be cutting back on your carbon footprint. And if that’s not enough, eating seasonally is good for the wallet too!

Visit the farmers market. Regular visits to your local farmers markets is a great way to eat locally and in season. Not only will you be eating for your health but you will also be supporting local farmers. It’s also a great opportunity to try new foods you normally would not see in traditional grocery stores. Make a goal to try a new fruit or vegetable each week. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables will ensure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals needed to stay healthy. Not sure how to cook them? Ask the farmer! A lot of times farmers at these markets have recipes and great tips for their produce.

The best way to incorporate more whole foods in your life is to keep them in full view and on hand for easy access. Have carrot sticks, apple slices or almonds prepared and in full sight, so the next time you have a craving you’ll be more likely to reach for these foods versus that bag of potato chips.

No time to cook when you get home? Try planning your meals for the week in advance. Have one day where you cook multiple meals for the week and freeze or refrigerate to have available during those hectic weeknights.

So this New Year don’t forget to get a little dirty and eat from the ground! Think simple and eat real, whole foods!

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