3 Health Benefits of Mindful Eating

3 Benefits of Mindful EatingWhen was the last time you sat down to eat without your phone, tablet or television turned on in front of you? Were you mindful about the foods you ate? How did this impact your health?

In our rush to get from one activity to the next, eating often gets pushed back as a task on a to-do list. We race to get something to eat, to then stuff our faces while our minds are concentrating on anything but the foods on our plates and then we hurry back to our desks to finish checking off things from that never-ending list.

Eating becomes a mechanical act. We bite, we chew, we swallow, barely giving thought to what we’re actually doing.

I had this experience recently with a pear. There I was, reading an article about how healthcare technology is putting patients back in the driver’s seat for their health, and inhaling my pear. Literally, gobbling it down without sparing a thought to the flavor or texture or how it was nourishing my body. I just went through the robotic motions of biting, chewing, and swallowing while my eyes were glued to the screen.

About halfway through my pear, I stopped and realized how awful this was. The irony of what I was doing juxtaposed with what I was reading wasn’t lost on me either. It was mid-morning and I was already starving. The pear was meant to get me past that hump until lunch, but I couldn’t muster the energy to pay attention to what I was doing long enough to feel anything. Instead of feeling satiated, I still felt hungry.

I took that moment to stop and refocus my energy on the pear. The shape, the color, the scent, the taste. I turned off my screen so I would have even fewer distractions. The goal was to engage all my senses in the experience of eating that pear. And it was worth that effort. I actually felt satisfied by the end of the process.

We’ve trained ourselves to fill each moment with more than one activity. Our fear of missing out (#FOMO for the cool kids), keeps us locked in a cycle of constant connectivity and anxiety. Taking the time to focus on just eating almost seems like a luxury. That’s what Europeans do, right? Siestas and long dinners where people are doing nothing but eating and drinking? That can’t be healthy.

eating at work
courtesy hkfbapps.com

Is finishing a large club sandwich in under five minutes healthy?

We’ve lost touch with how the act of eating affects our physical, emotional and mental health. It’s so more than just a biological function.

By applying some of the principles behind mindful meditation to eating, we can explore how increasing our attention to the foods we eat and the process of consumption can positively impact our health.

3 (of many) health benefits of mindful eating:

  • Taking the time to eat mindfully engages all of our senses and encourages self-awareness. By experiencing each part of the process in an unhurried fashion, you can evaluate how your food choices make you feel. Consider the choice between a bag of potato chips and a small green salad. How do the different colors appeal to you? What did the chips feel like on your hands? Did the salty chips taste better than the salad by the end? Keep your mind open to all of these observations.
  • Mindful eating awakens a connection to family, culture, and tradition. Sitting down to enjoy a meal with friends or family forges a bond. This creates new, positive experiences around food that can help build healthier habits over time. It nourishes the soul as much as the body.

family mindful eating

  • If soul nourishing isn’t on your agenda today, then consider how mindful eating can help you lose weight. By giving the brain time to process the physical act of eating, your body can properly digest the necessary nutrients from your meal and signal the brain that it’s actually satisfied. This is metabolism folks. The body was built for this. Forget about foods that speed this up for you. Dedicate each meal time to just eating and you’ll find that you have a better idea of what foods will give you energy and make you feel great, decrease the need for snacking, and keep you from overeating.
Eating habits cartoon
courtesy chibird.tumblr. com

The next time you sit down to a meal, forget about your schedule. Turn off all of your electronic devices. Focus all of your energy on the foods in front of you.

What does it look like?

How does it feel in your hands?

Does the aroma remind you of a happy memory?

Relish in that for a minute before you dig in. As you start to eat, take your time. Everything you need to do will keep for twenty minutes.

awareness checklist
courtesy eatingmindfully.com

Will you give this a shot?

How do you feel about mindful meditation?

How much time do you spend eating each meal?

Please feel free to share your comments below or on FB and Twitter.

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

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Introducing…Me: The Liebster Award

liebster-award1

I owe Annie of Strong Brees a HUGE hug for nominating me for the Liebster Award! Here it comes Annie:

<HUG>

Thank you times a million!

What I love most about these awards is the opportunity to get to know new bloggers who are doing some pretty awesome things on their sites and to spread the love. This also gives us a chance to pull back the curtain and share a bit of our origin story for those of you just tuning in.

It’s a great time all-around. So without further ado, let the share-fest begin!

First, let’s go over some of the rules:

  • You must link back to the person who nominated you.
  • You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee before you.
  • You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award.
  • You must create 10 questions for your nominees.
  • You must go to their blogs and notify the nominees.

Got it? Good.

Here’s my Q&A courtesy of Annie:

1.  What inspired you to begin blogging?
There’s no one simple answer here, but the tipping point for me was back in 2009. I’d reached a point where I was really frustrated with my weight and overall appearance. I started to change my eating and exercise habits, researching (I’m obsessed with research!) nutrition and different workout routines, experimenting and ultimately found a pattern that worked. By 2012, I’d hit a lot of my goals but I still felt like I had so many questions about health and nutrition that I wanted to figure out. Why do some diets work for some people but don’t for others? How can we change our environment to be more accepting of different body types instead of emulating an unrealistic beauty standard? What can I do to help people overcome issues with ED and unhappiness?  At the suggestion of several of my friends I decided to start writing. I spent a week in London during the Olympics in 2012, and was so inspired that I spent the entire flight home writing out what would become Food4ThoughtNYC. I never looked back after that.
2.  What is your favorite piece of workout apparel?
me and Underarmour gearI’m obsessed with anything by UnderArmour, especially their leggings. They offer the perfect amount of flexibility and compression without feeling bulky or too tight. Plus, they look awesome! I’ve also learned over time that nothing beats a cotton top. I used to love all of those high-tech sweat-wicking materials but quickly realized that they smell pretty awful mid-workout. Invest your money in the shorts or pants and stick to inexpensive and comfortable tops- just a tip!
3.  What is one type of workout you have not yet tried but are curious about?
There’s two- Zumba and Crossfit. Talk about polar opposites! I’m a powerlifter and usually prefer workouts that are a bit more slow-paced with heavy weights. This year I’ve created some new goals around increasing my endurance which means I need to start embracing workouts that are fast-paced with a cardio component. One of my best friends is obsessed with Crossfit and I can’t go a day without coming across a blog post talking about whatever WOD they crushed. I want to drink the Koolaid too! And Zumba just looks like crazy fun. I can shimmy with the best of them, so why not make it a workout?
4.  What did you eat for breakfast (be honest, no judgement here!)?
Ah, you caught me! I just had a giant cup of coffee, but I’m working hard to minimize the extras I throw in. So, only a few teaspoons of sugar, sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon, a few drops of half-and-half, and a bit of coconut oil. That’s right, I put coconut oil in my coffee! I’ve read that it’s great for your digestive health and while the science behind the benefits of all things coconut is still a bit murky, I personally find this little addition pretty great for me. I like experimenting! And I also had a slice of whole wheat toast. I’ve got a green smoothie on tap once I finish writing this post.
5.  Name one thing you do, wear, or own that gives you the most confidence?
Great question. I’m gonna go with writing. It’s a funny answer for me because writing also gives me a lot of anxiety. I worry if what I’m sharing will resonate or fall flat or if my grammar is completely screwed up. Sometimes I run away from it altogether, and I’ve taken some long breaks from my blog as a result. But I find the ebb and flow of my writing journey the past two years to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. There are times when I’m literally bursting at the seams to sit down and get my thoughts down either on paper or on my site. It’s been cathartic, especially when I wrote about my issues with disordered eating or racial identity. And as much as it terrifies to put that out there for the world to read and potentially criticize, I always feel like I’ve triumphed in some way. It’s a roundabout way towards feeling confident, but nevertheless it’s been the most effective.
6.  If you could go for a walk/run anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Impossible to answer! I’m a travel nut and my bucket list is way too long. I was in Moab last summer and while there I experienced some of the most serene moments in my life. Sitting there and staring out at these massive rock formations and the valleys between just made me feel so small and so huge at the same time. me and moabThose are the emotions I like to go for whenever I visit somewhere new. I suppose the next place I’d like to feel that would probably be the antithesis of Moab, so a forest comes to mind. I’d love to see the Sequoias in California or some of the old-world forests in Europe. My second choice would be somewhere mountainous. Clearly, nature wins for me!
7.  If time and money were no issue what would you do for a day?
Only one day?? Take a long walk in the early morning to a new neighborhood in NYC. Have breakfast (calories don’t count in this dream right?) and coffee at a slow pace. Visit a museum or go to the park for a few hours to read. Go home and experiment with a new recipe. Watch a movie. Call up a friend and go to a beer garden or outdoor restaurant to enjoy a meal, a few drinks, and a conversation, again at an unhurried pace. Eat dessert. Go home and play with my dog. Then go to bed. Nothing fancy or crazy. And completely unplugged from the digital world. I spend nearly every waking hour online for myself or for work and as much as I enjoy it, there are days when you just need to detox. This would be one of those days.
8.  Cardio or weights?  Why?
WEIGHTS. All the way. I’m a powerlifter, so yeah, weights.
Maribel- 195x2 Deadlift 5-17-13
Every time I tried losing weight in the past I’d go the cardio route only to quit pretty soon after. I don’t blame the exercise so much as a lack of understanding on my part of what really worked for me. When I started lifting with my personal trainer a year ago, something clicked. It’s a difficult challenge, but it was something I actually enjoyed doing, which was very different from every time I’ve hit the pavement attempting to run a couple of miles. This is why I make it my mission to tell everyone to ignore whatever workout trend is currently making the rounds and to quit believing that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to fitness. Some of my friends are avid runners who get the high and love the feeling they get from hitting the pavement each day. Others swim, hike, dance, do yoga, spin, kickbox- or lift like I do. And even still, I’m not locked into one thing. This afternoon I’m going swimming and I’ve got a yoga session in store for tomorrow. I choose weights, but that’s not my only choice.
9.  Do you drink coffee? If so, how do you like it?
Ah, scroll up to read my answer to #4, lol. Yes. Coffee and I are old old friends. I even wrote about it here.
10.  What accomplishment are you most proud of?
In no specific order: hitting my 230lb deadlift before my 30th birthday last December when I originally aimed for 225lbs; being featured in Latina magazine this year as a top blogger; conquering my fear of bikes by learning to ride last year; getting healthy and fit for me and not for anyone else which was a MAJOR life lesson; traveling through 4 continents and living abroad more than once; nailing an internship with a startup whose mission I actually believe in that inspires me everyday; letting go of some of the pain from my past by embracing gratitude, forgiveness, and meditation as part of my daily practice; starting this crazy blog that led me to meet some truly incredible people out there who are proudly sharing their stories and constantly inspiring me with their honesty, passion, strength, and creativity. Thank you for all that you do!
I’m honestly gobsmacked by the amount of support and encouragement I’ve been lucky to receive from people I’ll probably never meet in real life, but who come here and find something that strikes a chord with them. I do this for me, to leave my mark in the universe in my own way. But really, I do this for you too.
I’ve said it from the beginning: my intention here is to start a conversation. I want to connect and learn from you to see how even the smallest exchange can create waves of change in our corners of the world. A million thank yous to each and every single one of you who’ve laid eyes on my page and the sites of all the bloggers out there that are working just as hard to create something truly unique.
The world needs more unique. 🙂
Alright, now the fun doesn’t stop here. It’s time to nominate what I consider to be truly incredible blogs that I’ve recently discovered and to continue paying it forward (my motto!).
And here are my questions (keeping some of Annie’s because they were great!)
1.  What inspired you to begin blogging?
2.  How do you feel about social media and being “connected”?
3.  What is one type of workout you have not yet tried but are curious about?
4.  What is your favorite healthy recipe?
5.  Name one thing you do, wear, or own that gives you the most confidence.
6.  If you could go for a walk/run anywhere in the world, where would it be?
7.  What song, movie or book inspires you?
8.  Do you practice meditation or have an interest in trying it out?
9.  Why do you write?
10.  What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Congrats to all of the nominees. Have a wonderful weekend everyone. Happy Easter!

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

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Forgive Yourself Before Anyone Else Today

To Be BeautifulAs important as it is to let go of conflict with others by forgiving them, it’s just as important for you to let go of the negative self-talk and forgive yourself in the process.

Sometimes the reasons we argue stem from some deep seeded inner conflict that causes us to lash out. We hold onto resentment and anger out of fear.

Exercising forgiveness goes hand in hand with gratitude. Start with yourself.

Take a moment to consider how you would feel if you took a step back from whatever was causing you pain today and told yourself,

Hey, it’s okay. You did your best. It’s okay that this happened. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t loved. This doesn’t mean that you are alone. This doesn’t mean that things can’t change for the better. Let it go.

Go ahead and try it out this second if you can. Write it down and repeat it to yourself. Say it out loud. Or close your eyes and meditate.

It might feel kind of strange at first, but over time you’ll find this exercise to be vital and life-affirming. There’s no harm in trying.

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

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