I love having a chance to chat with some of the amazing Registered Dietitians I know about their best advice. I talked with Bethany Frazier, the Kansas City Dietitian about Mindful Eating. Don’t miss the Yummy Food part of our discussion, but now we’re here for the Smart Advice.
Mindful Eating is a topic that has particular relevance in my life right now, given that I am currently providing 100% of a three month-old person’s nutritional needs. I find myself very hungry, but frustrated that I feel like my appetite is out of control.
How Can Mindful Eating Help Me?
Did you know that it takes 10 chews for your palate to absorb the flavors of a food? (Thanks for reminding me, Bethany!) I can tell you that when I ate some Golden Oreos yesterday, I took ten bites, but it was in the process of eating three cookies. Since I have vowed to be the real me on this blog, I admit I there are many times that I mindlessly eat. I eat a meal without taking time to enjoy it. Sometimes, I am pretty sure that I rush so fast that I don’t even taste the food.
I’m most guilty of mindless eating when I find myself eating in response to negative emotions like anger, frustration, or sadness. It might make me feel better for a brief moment, but it does not last. For example, almost every time I get angry at my kids, I end up heading to the pantry and grabbing a handful of chocolate chips in an attempt not to yell at them. Later, I feel shame about that choice, and end up eating more chocolate chips. It’s a cycle that never ends up helping the actual problem. (Please don’t ask why I buy the Costco size bag of chocolate chips!)
I’m a dietitian, so I’m trained to recognize and stop this behavior. If it is hard for me, I know that it’s tough for a lot of people. I’m not saying that chocolate chips are a terrible thing to eat. The problem isn’t chocolate (it’s delicious). The problem is that I’m not paying attention to anything while I am eating it. If I appreciated the flavor or the nutrition chocolate provides, I would probably eat just a few. Luckily, learning to enjoy the taste of food and then stop is a skill we can develop using strategies from mindfulness.
Mindful Eating Q & A With Bethany
Q: What is Mindful Eating?
A: Mindful Eating is repairing our relationship with food. Its using all of our senses to put food in its rightful place. We can enjoy any food, but remember that its purpose it to provide nutrition for our body.
Q: What is your best tip for using Mindful Eating in our daily life?
A: Work on enjoying your food by slowing down when you eat it. One of the best exercises to practice eating mindfully is to take a “cheat food” (usually a sweet, salty, or fatty food) and slow down the process of eating it. Take a bite and try to describe the food to someone who hasn’t eaten it before. Decide if each bite tastes better, worse, or the same. Continue to eat it until the food doesn’t give you pleasure.
I’d love to hear what happens when you try this exercise!