A mindful approach. CY

Do you have a love/hate relationship with food? Is everything with your diet going "good" until you have one "bad" biscuit, then "screw it", it’s all over, you may as well eat the whole pack? If so, you may benefit from incorporating some aspects of mindfulness into your eating habits.                                                    

Humans have many emotions that can be met with food: boredom, stress, anger, happiness, sadness, comfort, reward, the list goes on. When you are frequently eating food to meet an emotional need (as opposed to physical hunger) it might start to impact on your weight and wellbeing. Learning to identify your non-hungry eating triggers and come up with alternative strategies to meet your emotional needs will help you reconnect with your bodies true requirements for food.

Many of us were told to clear our plate at dinner, as it is a waste to leave food on your plate. I commonly see patients who have been clearing their plates for years, regardless of how full they were feeling. You may feel that putting food in the bin is a waste however, If you are feeling satisfied and satiated, continuing to put food in your body is also a waste. The bin and your body are the same place for the food once you are full. It doesn't need to be wasted, wrap it up and put it in the fridge for when your body requires it. Four mouthfuls that your body didn’t need adds up to a lot of food over a lifetime.

 Mindfulness doesn't have to be used only when eating. Appreciating our surroundings and being mindful in the present is also important.

Mindfulness doesn't have to be used only when eating. Appreciating our surroundings and being mindful in the present is also important.

A good strategy to help you reconnect with your body’s hunger and fullness cues is to use the skill of 'checking in'. Before you enter an eating experience ask yourself on a scale of 0-10 how hungry am I right now? And on a scale of 0-10 how full am I right now? If you get no cues from your body that you are hungry then you might be eating due to an emotional or external trigger e.g. time of day, friend offering you food or because it was there. If you can detect some signs of physical hunger then slow down and savour whatever food you are eating (the only place you have taste buds is in your mouth). Try and check in during and after your meal to help you decide when is a good time to stop so that you are comfortably satiated (6-7 out of 10). Give yourself permission to leave food on your plate. The food could be for leftovers for the next day, composted or fed to a pet.

If you are interested in incorporating mindfulness into your day here are some phone applications that I have used:

 Charlotte Yarnton, BAppSc, MDiet, NZRD

Charlotte Yarnton, BAppSc, MDiet, NZRD

This article was written by Charlotte Yarnton, a NZ registered Dietitian working in the Bay of Plenty. Thank you for the time you took to write this article Charlotte. Thanks for reading.