Happy almost Christmas everyone! I feel like as I get older, time literally just flies by. This year has been no exception. This past weekend was spent buying books in adorable book stores, eating sushi, and catching up on work. Hope you had a great weekend too!
This week I wanted to talk about how to incorporate some mindfulness techniques to help determine fullness levels.
Mindfulness is being aware of each moment through your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and surroundings.
Mindfulness stresses acceptance, meaning you are aware of these feelings and don’t judge them. It is focusing on here and now, and not what happened previously or later today, but what is literally occurring at each moment.
Practicing mindfulness may improve sleep quality, decrease stress, improve memory, increase compassion towards others, improve relationships and improve self-esteem. It may also increase enjoyment of food, which is awesome!
Before we get into mindfulness, it is important to give yourself permission to eat all foods. By knowing that you can have as much as you want of any food, whenever you want, will help lessen cravings and feelings of deprivation around food. Utilizing the visual hunger scale may also help.
This will take TIME. Maybe years. People often say well yeah I know I can eat it whenever, but when I do eat __, I eat the whole ___. Ask yourself: are you truly giving yourself permission to eat it whenever you want? Then, practice practice practice.
So what does comfortable fullness look like? There is no golden answer I’m afraid. Everyone is highly individual, so what works for some, may not work for you. The good news is that this is all up to you!
Fullness may feel like you are neither hungry nor full, satisfied, or simply like your stomach is full.
One way to try and tune in to these signals is through mindful eating!
1. Pause in the middle of a meal or snack. Ask yourself – is this still tasting good? Am I full? Is this something I know I need to eat to make it through the next four hours productively?
2. Don’t feel obligated to leave food on your plate. Just as you don’t need to feel pressured to clean your plate, you don’t need to feel like you have to leave food on the plate. If you are hungry, you should eat!
3. Eat without distraction. If you focusing solely on your meal, you may be able to better tune in to those hunger cues. Put your phone away, put Netflix on pause, put your school work away, and shut down your laptop. Side-note: I recognize that distracted eating happens. Like all the time. And while food provides us with the energy to do daily life, it doesn’t need to be our sole focus. So if are distracted, that is perfectly fine. There are more important things than what exact type of food we put into our mouths. If you enjoy eating and reading your favorite magazine, go ahead!
4. Don’t feel like you must eat. This basically means that you can say “no thanks” if someone offers you something. Remember that you are in charge of how much and when you want to eat.
5. When you are done eating, ask yourself where your fullness is now. Where are you on the hunger scale? Remember we are shooting for about 4-7.
6. When you are able to notice where your fullness is, you may be able to identify your last bite threshold. Ask – Now that I know where I am on the hunger scale, do I need to continue to eat? Or should I make this my last bite?
7. If you decide you are done, do something to reinforce that you are done. This may be as simple as pushing your plate away from you, putting the leftovers in the fridge, or getting up from the table. Sometimes it’s just a nice reminder to yourself that you are done.
On another note, these tips might not be the most helpful for you. And that is ok! Mindful eating could also look like, listing to a podcast while eating, being able to go out spontaneously for dinner with friends instead of having your prepared dinner at home, eating a meal in your car because you are hungry, eating a lunch that you don’t love 100% but you eat it because its nourishment, or eating when you aren’t super hungry because you know you have an event later without food.
These tips are simply a way to remind yourself to check in with yourself. And this can look very different for everyone. Give yourself the flexibility to know what hunger feels like, what feeling full is and remember this doesn’t have to be perfect. This is just another reminder to check in with what you are feeling, how things taste, and in acknowledging these feelings and accepting them as is, you are taking care of you.
How can you be more mindful? Is mindful eating helpful for you?
Talk to you next week!!