Have you ever gotten done eating a meal and realize you didn’t even taste what was on your plate? We’re often times too busy, distracted by other things (like the t.v. computer, or phone), or just simply on auto-pilot and don’t even pay attention to what we’re putting in our mouth. How about you? Do you even remember what you had for dinner last night?
This summer I’ve been leading a weight-loss group of 20 people, and we’ve gone through a program called Living Lean by Self Help Works. The program is very unique in that it’s not a diet at all. Instead, it’s all about mindfulness and re-training your brain to automatically make healthy choices. It doesn’t just happen overnight, and it’s definitely a process requiring a lot of work. But, the results have been awesome!
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindfulness and mindful eating are really simple concepts to understand. There are all sorts of fancy definitions, but it’s really just about slowing down and being present and “in the moment” as you eat. It’s about paying attention to what you’re going to eat and then acknowledging how the food tastes, smells, and even feels on your tongue.
Mindful Eating Exercise
If you want to see what I mean, try this exercise.
- Take 1 Peanut
- Take one peanut out of your pantry. If you don’t have a peanut, another nut, potato chip, or pretzel will work too. But, just take ONE.
- Close your Eyes
- Close your eyes, and keep them closed throughout the entire exercise.
- Smell It
- Smell the peanut or chip. Really smell it. Have you ever really paid attention to the smell?
- Lick It
- Next, I want you to lick it, and make sure you lick all around and/or both sides. If you’re using a chip or pretzel, pay attention to the salt. Are both sides salted or only one? (Did you even know that was a thing?)
- Put it in your Mouth
- Now put the nut or chip into your mouth and just kind of roll it around. Don’t chew it yet! What kind of shape does it have? Is it sharp, smooth, have any bumps or ridges?
- Chew It
- It’s time to chew. Take as many bites as you can. Try to get at least 20. What side of your mouth do you chew on? (Most people actually have a dominant side, and maybe you’ve never slowed down enough to notice.) How does it taste? Does it get stuck in your teeth?
- Before you open your eyes, think about how you feel. Did you even like the taste of what you just ate? Do you want another one (assuming you’ll eat it the same way)? Are you satisfied?
- Open your Eyes
How’d you do? Did anything surprise you? I was surprised to find that half a peanut has a little knob that sticks out of the side of it. I never slowed down enough to notice that before. And, honestly, I don’t usually just eat half a peanut. It’s so interesting what you notice when you actually slow down enough to pay attention. I also found that one peanut was satisfying. I didn’t have to eat more. What about you? Was one potato chip really be enough?
Ding, ding, ding…this is how the exercise can help you lose weight! If you slow down enough and really focus on what you are eating, you will likely eat less and therefore lose weight!
If you want to learn more about mindful eating, stay tuned next week. I’m going to share tips, so you can incorporate this technique into your day-to-day routine. The goal is to be mindful about what goes into your mouth, so you enjoy it. And, if you’re trying to lose weight, to re-train your brain so you never have to diet again.
Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!
Melissa Merkle and Kirt Lietzow own Boomers N Motion, an exercise and health coaching business focused on keeping baby boomers and older adults healthy into their golden years. For more information on group classes and private, in-home coaching, please contact Melissa and Kirt at coaches@boomersNmotion.com.