Welcome to part-2 of the 20-day challenge to eat more mindfully.
If you are just joining now then I would implore you to go back and complete the ten days of part-1 first.
As human beings we all have an animalistic side to us by nature. This can really come out around food or lack of food.
Ever experience hanger or see somebody else in that mood?
Ever devour a meal in mere minutes?
Ever eat so much during food preparation that you are no longer hungry when dinner is served?
Ever over eat to the point of feeling sick?
Ever pick something off the ground and eat it even when you know you probably shouldn’t? I know, of course you haven’t 😉
By working on these tips it can help you to feel better about your body and your ability to manage eating habits in a healthy and nourishing way while still enjoying the pleasure of food to the max. It will just be enjoyed more on your terms.
Set a reminder on your phone at meal times for the next 10-days if you are liable to forget about this commitment you feel will benefit your life.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then let us begin…
Day 11: Understand what drives your hunger.
Today the emphasis is on assesing whether your drive to eat is from natural hunger brought on by low blood sugar, stomach emptiness and hormonal changes. The idea is to help you decipher between natural hunger and strong cravings often brought on by stress or boredom.
Being aware of such triggers can be a massive step in developing healthier eating patterns.
Use you diary or notes function and write down your answers to these:
- What happens in your environment that triggers your desire to eat?
- Why do these make you feel hunger or food cravings?
- What feelings do they bring up in you?
- Think back to a time when a situation that you were in triggered hunger, cravings, or overeating. Was it hunger or something else causing this drive to eat?
Day 12: Identify positive feelings around food.
Recognising the emotions that come to you during a meal can be beneficial. Eating food can be a joyful and enriching experience however for many it is not and that can be for several reasons and that’s ok.
When eating ask yourself the following and write down your answers:
- Is the meal bringing up any positive feelings? What are they?
- Why am I feeling good? The food, the atmosphere or the people with whom I’m sharing it…
As ever write down your thoughts and feelings unflitered.
Day 13: Make a meal last 20 minutes.
So often we rush through meals because in today’s modern age we have convinced ourselves we are so busy that to do so is wasting time.
Slowing down is a really great ploy as it takes the body time to send satiety signals to the brain, enabling you to decipher when you are full with more accuracy.
Today, make a meal last for at least 20 minutes. Take notes on whether you noticed changes in fullness or satisfaction.
Tips to make your meal time be or go over 20 minutes:
- Before eating, look and smell your meal. Settle yourself. Be grateful that you didn’t have to fight for this meal like many in the world do.
- Sip water throughout.
- Chew more than you usually do and put your knife and fork down between bites.
- Take a few deep breaths throughout.
Day 14: Use all your senses to enjoy a small bite of food.
Take 3 of any of the following depending on your taste preference – raisins, chocolate chips, cashew nuts or grapes.
Follow these instructions:
- Take the food items in your hand and really study them, what are you seeing?
- Start to feel the food items, what do you feel? Are they curvy, pointed etc.
- Bring them to your nose – do you smell anything?
- Now bring them to your ears – do you hear anyhting? Any thoughts about the food coming to you?
- Place one item on your tongue and leave it there for some seconds. Then move it around in your mouth and acknowledge any sensation of the feel or taste coming to you.
- Repeat with the other two and you can play around with how much you chew etc.
Note in your journal any thoughts or emotions that come up during the exercise.
Day 15: Deepen your relationship with nature with a mindful walk
We’re moving away from the dinner table today to put the emphasis on a nice and relaxed but focused walk in nature. We want you to prioritise curiousity and embracing your surroundings, take in any treas, nice buildings, the air..
Research shows that nature experiences can positively impact health in many ways, including reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and boosting your mood (1, 2).
Look for the beauty around you as you don’t need to be in the countryside or a forest to experience this.
Aim for 10 minutes — the longer the better. Jot down any feelings or thoughts that you experience to refer back to at the end of the challenge.
Day 16: Focus on your present hunger.
Complete today’s challenge when you’re moderately hungry and have the time to both prepare a meal and eat it mindfully.
Once you’re ready, get into a comfortable seated position or lie down on your back. Then do the following:
- Notice your mood – acknowleding any pleasant, unpleasant or neutral feelings coming up.
- Become aware of your body. Inhale and exhale deeply, noting your natural breathing pattern.
- Now, become conscious of your hunger. Where do you feel the sensation?
- Rate your hunger between 1 and 10. Ask what would satisfy my hunger? What flavours, smells, colours, and textures would I like? Would I prefer a warm or cold meal?
- Picturing yourself eating these foods. Would this imaginary meal make you feel good?
If you have the ingredients for the pictured meal then go ahead and make it, if not then get creative with what you have and try your best to replicate the elements your were looking forward to.
Day 17: Become conscious of your satisfaction cues.
Food is something that we should enjoy but sometimes the desire for a specific flavour becomes too much and we over consume.
Many times and this is particularly the case with sweet foods the first few bites are by far the most satisfying and then our satisfaction per bite rating begins to fall and potentially the guilt per bite ratio increases.
Recognizing how this desire changes after the first few bites can help you create a better understanding of food cravings and how to control potion sizes to enjoy your favorite foods moderately.
For today, pick a favorite food, whether it’s chocolate or crisps or peanut butter or hummus. Best to complete this in between meals and not when hungry.
Without distraction ask yourself these questions while you eat:
- Did the taste change after the first bite?
- Was a few bits enough to satisfy me?
- Did you enjoy the first bite more than the second, or third?
Day 18: Enjoy more of your favorite foods mindfully.
Let’s build on yesterday’s challenge today. It’s based on the same principles but is seeking to gain deeper insight into our relationship with our favourite foods.
In today’s challenge, you’ll be using the same techniques with a different food/foods. You can complete this exercise with a small amount of a few different favorite foods or just one.
Sit down and enjoy the chosen food slowly, giving special attention to each bite. Ask the following questions and write down your answers:
- Did the taste of the food change after the first bite?
- What was more enjoyable – the first bite or the second?
- Do you feel a drive to finish the entire portion or were you satisfied with a few bites?
Day 19: Notice how your food relationship has changed.
On day 6 of this challenge, you were asked to get in touch with your feelings surrounding food by focusing on what emotions surfaced while eating a meal and why.
We go back to that today to see if and how your feelings towards food have changed since the earlier part of the challenge.
Use some of the techniques you’ve learned like eating slowly and appreciating the flavor in today’s exercise.
Get your notes function and write down the answers to the following during the meal:
- Does eating this food surface any emotions? Which ones?
- Why do you think these emotions are coming to the surface?
- Are you eating to satisfy hunger or to try and deal with an emotion?
- Have these feelings changed since the beginning of this challenge? If yes, how?
Compare these notes to Day-6 to assess any change which may have occured.
Day 20: Practice mindful eating in social settings
When we are out with friends, colleagues and family it can be hard not to want to “treat” ourselves with an abundance of food. Ironically we are not treating our digestive systems very well by overloading them.
Make a commitment to stay true to what we have worked on and write down some notes pre-meal which you would like to focus on. Another tip is to embrace the social element of the meal and pause between bites to fully engage in conversation.
Your target work on points could be:
- savoring the flavor of food
- eating slowly
- acknowledging food triggers
- honoring and accepting your feelings surrounding certain foods
Once home, reflect on how your eating behaviors in social situations have changed since engaging in mindful eating practices.
Did you eat more mindfully and appreciate your food without guilt? Did you stop eating when you felt satisfied?
Congratulations on having completed the challenge!
Things to bring forward and try to incorporate habitually are rating your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10, choosing food based on what would be most satisfying to your authentic needs in the moment. Preparing a meal or snack based on your current hunger and cravings as well as dishing out a portion size accordingly. Also, think if the craving is emtionally based, could I satisfy dealing with this emotion in a different way like listening to music, going for a run, watching a movie, calling a friend, hitting a punch bag…
Remember to assess your food (colour, shape, texture etc.). Think what choice will be nourishing (treat your body like a ferrari not a lada). Become more aware of emotions arising during eating. Pause halfway through the meal to assess hunger and if necessary at that point, give yourself permission to stop and come back to it later. Try to be mindful of your last bite.
Happy and peaceful Mindful Eating!
Thanks to http://www.healthline.com where I got my inspiration for this kind of healthy eating challenge.
Get in touch if you would like to organise a 1 on 1 nutrition optimisation consultation.
Declan “It’s also how you eat” Treanor